Following Pep Guardiola’s much anticipated departure following the 2015/16 season, Die Roten were rendered in a position unlike anything they’ve experienced in years: uncertainty. After three years of toiling away to master and execute Guardiola’s beautiful conception of football, Bayern Munich continued to find themselves in UEFA obscurity. More importantly, Bayern failed to recognize crumbling foundation within the context of the club.
In the three years served as the Bayern teacher of his aforementioned concept, Bayern elevated themselves in a class occupied by only Real Madrid and Barcelona. It is arguable that said elevation occurred following their infamous treble, but it was Guardiola who truly elevated the Bayern brand. Guardiola bought players like Mario Gotze, Robert Lewandowski, and Arturo Vidal, and the rest of the Bundesliga couldn’t keep up. On the pitch, the disparity in talent was evident, despite Pep insisting that the games were in fact difficult, and winning the Bundesliga served as a simple momento for positive play. However, the UEFA Champions League proved to be challenging, especially in the semi-final rounds against the likes of Real Madrid, Athletico, and Barcelona.
The three year saga of Pep Guardiola’s tenure at Bayern was arguably a counterattack that never seemed to remedy itself. Aside from Bayern’s victimization of said counterattack is without question, Bayern continues to fall short. Bayern’s best chance to win the Champions League was 2015/16, Pep’s last season. Following the disappointing loss to Athletico, a number of Bayern players—Robben, Ribéry, Neuer, and Lahm—we’re approaching elevated ages for their respective careers. Bayern needed to retool, rebuild, or even refresh its team, and had the chance to do so with the likes of players like Leroy Sané. However, Uli Hoeness and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge argued that players like Robben and Ribéry were still top players. Following the 2015/16 season, Bayern’s rebuild should have begun, not now. From the coaching carousel to the poor signings, Bayern still operates with a perceived elevated-status once held with Guardiola at the helm. That dangerous mystique left with Pep in 2016, but the Bayern brass continued to render itself split between legacy and fantasy. In other words, the team was built on a solid foundation of history, but they view themselves as a top five team. The inconsistencies of the past four seasons proves that this is correct.
Now it is essential to note that Flick’s tenure cannot be judged yet, as the season has not been completed yet, so this blog will not address his performance. From Ancelotti to Kovac, Bayern became the girl who thinks she is gorgeous, tells everyone she is gorgeous, but everyone knows that this isn’t true. Carlo is a great manager, but this team was not the right fit, and the front office did not jive with his decisions; however, his decisions were equally questionable. For instance, how does a player coming off of a career year end up on the bench, simply because he doesn’t fit into your scheme? Great coaches build the system around his players. Kovac made the same mistake, and his tactical opportunities proved to be too decisive in his sacking. Still Uli and KHR perceived this team to be equal to a UCL contender. The worst thing to happen was an old genius named Jupp Heynckes, who took a beaten team deep in the Champions League, which they had no business at that stage in the tournament. The player performances, as it is arguable that Jupp demanded said efforts, were extraordinary, but not sustainable. Jupp’s final tenure was nothing more than a flash in the pan. Jupp left and Kovac reinstated Bayern’s backward trajectory. Again, winning the Bundesliga and even the Pokal is nothing to hang your hat on if a specific team continues to win annually. Bayern’s defeat time Liverpool last season illustrated how far this team has fallen.
It’s time to rebuild. The rebuild has arguably begun under Flick, but a true rebuild will arrive in three stages: commit to Flick (on the notion that he continues to garner results), commit to the academy, and spend some money. Just briefly, Bayern have not utilized their academy effectively since Alaba and Müller arrived on the scene. This was not a strength of Guardiola, Ancelotti, or Kovac. Flick appears to be open to utilizing his youngsters, and Bayern needs to augment its veteran players with at least one or two youngsters every year. But Bayern also needs to spend money. Long gone are the days when you can find star players for €20M. You can’t hide young stars anymore, as they have done so in the past. If Bayern wants to prove that their recent success is no flash in the pan, they must admit that they are rebuilding, but doing so with both feet in the future.