Hansi Flick has established himself as an Bayern Munich legend, despite having been at the club for just over a year as both assistant and head coach (minus his playing days, of course). The 55-year old has already lifted five trophies with FC Bayern, including the elusive UEFA Champions League, and is currently manning another successful run with his club. But what exactly is the secret behind his success?
In an interview with Bayern’s club magazine Sabener 51, Flick said that his high-octane approach was a thing borne out of mutual trust between himself and the team.
“I knew this team had enormous quality in attack, and I was always a fan of putting pressure on our opponents early on,” he said. “Our players have now developed a basic trust in themselves.”
He also mentioned that his approach was heavily linked to the team’s DNA. Indeed, that is exactly what the Bayern bosses saw in Flick before his permanent appointment - someone that would adhere to what the club stood for.
“My point is that FC Bayern needs a clear DNA, and my coaching team and I want to pass that on to the players,” he said. “This DNA should not only be directly visible in the games, but also in our academy work, in scouting, in all areas.”
And what is this particular DNA in terms of play and style? “Possessing the ball, being dominant, playing attacking football,” defined Flick. If only he added ‘pressing the hell out of everyone,’ he’d be even more accurate.
A prime example of this DNA is the Champions League final against Paris Saint-Germain, the crowning jewel of Flick’s achievements. The most notable aspect of that final was that Flick had his men press high up the pitch from minute one to 90, despite the risk of counterattacks. His game plan was simple: block the counterattacks before they happen by simply pressing high.
“For me, the question of playing it safe has never risen,” said Flick.
His trust in the team’s abilities, as well as his, resulted in Bayern’s first European Cup in seven years. But there was a lot more behind that final than just high pressing. It was all about his players for Hansi.
“We had previously thought about how we could thank each player - because no matter how the game ended, it had already been a great performance by everyone up to that point,” he said.
Thankfully, it ended in triumph.
Not only did he think of thanking the players, but he also got a little extra motivation for them from outside sources. Being a family man himself, and having named his wife as his most trusted advisor, Flick clearly knows the impact that family can have on a person.
“We asked the players’ families for videos and had a very emotional clip put together. When I saw the film in advance, it gave me goosebumps,” Flick said. “When we watched the clip together before the game, some of them had tears in their eyes.”
It is probably no miracle that every player was playing extra hard that night in Lisbon — they had their loved ones behind them.
Judging from the team’s performances this year, it is clear that Flick is doing an excellent job of motivating the players. But what is the secret behind that success? Flick didn’t go into too much detail, but he did say that mentality was key.
“If I’m not always ready for the extra mile, I have no place at FC Bayern,” Flick said. “And I have no sympathy if someone doesn’t understand that. We don’t need a player here who only jumps as high as he has to jump. The attitude must be to want to improve every day.”
That mentality has been ubiquitous in Bayern’s players all year, apparently even in a simple game of football tennis in training. Little team spirit competitions like the Sabener Cup and the Doha Cup are also signs of the seeds of mentality that Flick has planted in the team. By making competitions like these, he raises the players’ motivations in training as well — no one wants to lose those games, everyone wants to win the trophy. Because hey, whether it’s the Sabener Cup or the European Cup, a trophy is a trophy, right?
Of course, no interview nowadays would be complete without mentioning the COVID-19 pandemic. Flick himself said that it is difficult to think about things separately.
“There is the joy because of the tremendous success that the team, the coaching staff, the whole club has achieved, but of course there is also this pandemic,” he said.
But he also remarked that this is a learning experience for everyone involved, from a situation that no one could have predicted. The truth of the matter is that regardless of the pandemic, Flick and his team have been extremely successful.
“We rose to the challenge, and that’s how life must be,” he said simply.
However, Flick is not focused on past success, but rather on the next challenges.
“Everyone here knows: I’m here at FC Bayern, I work at FC Bayern, it’s all about winning, leagues and trophies. A lot is demanded of us, you always have to be ready,” he said.
Here’s to many more titles and honors with Bayern’s mentality monster of a coach!