Any season could be dissected to the point where a fan is left asking “what if” about any number of scenarios involving their favorite club or team.
Bayern Munich is no different.
Whatever the ultimate legacy is for the 2019/20 edition of Die Rekordmeister, there are several important — okay, some might not be that important — situations or scenarios that left a lasting impact on the Bavarians. Rather than beat around the bush any longer, let’s get down to figuring out what situations set the course for this season in Munich.
What if...Bayern Munich never accepted Philippe Coutinho on a loan assignment?
You could make a strong case that Niko Kovac’s demise started the minute Hasan “Brazzo” Salihamidzic picked up his phone to make a call to FC Barcelona. Sure, Coutinho is a nice player and he certainly has some flashy skills, but much like the situation he found himself in with Barca, Coutinho just was not a great fit in Bavaria.
Initially, some fans theorized that Coutinho would slot into the left flank and work his creative magic, but Kovac pushed him into the “10” role and dumped club icon Thomas Müller to the bench.
The results were underwhelming to say the least.
By feeling pressure (perhaps from above) to play the big-named loanee, Kovac ultimately alienated segments of the locker room and made his team less effective on the pitch. By gambling on a name rather than a proven commodity, Kovac lost not only that bet, but also his job.
What if...they RELEASED THE TAPE?
One of the great time-honored traditions with Bayern Munich is the team dinner/karaoke session where new players and selected veterans grab the mic and belt out a tune. Phillip Quinn magnificently captured all of the available content from last summer here, but one performance curiously never saw the light of day.
No, we definitely saw Alphonso Davies croon his version of “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston, Fiete Arp somehow know the lyrics to “Country Roads” by John Denver, Lucas Hernandez belt out “La Bamba” by Richie Valens, and Sarpreet Singh break down “Baby” by Justin Beiber.
It was Kovac, himself, whose performance went AWOL. Kovac no doubt knocked out a killer version of “99 Luftballoons” by Nena, but nary anyone has spoken of the event. The Bayern Munich players have treated it as if they found Joe Exotic roaming Uli Hoeness’ property that night: No one has said a word about, yet they all KNOW something happened there.
Perhaps having the tape go public could have humanized Kovac a little more in the eyes of his players who seemed to have a tough time relating to and also communicating with the manager.
One last time...RELEASE THE TAPE!
What if...Niklas Süle didn’t suffer a horrific ACL injury?
Süle was considered the foundational piece to the Bayern Munich defense prior to the season. The big German was going to be supported by Hernandez, Benjamin Pavard, and Jerome Boateng in the central defense, but his unfortunate injury left Kovac scrambling to count on the trio of defenders — plus Javi Martinez — who ALL struggled in the central defender role under Kovac.
A funny thing happened, however. Upon Kovac’s dismissal, Hansi Flick slid David Alaba inside, pushed Alphonso Davies to left-back, and the entire back-line stabilized. Alaba proved to be a beast centrally and Davies is an absolutely dynamic player at left-back. Boateng then rejuvenated his season and Pavard become a very capable and dependable right-back.
Would the back-line have evolved that way if Süle stayed healthy? We’ll never know.
Perhaps, the big fella should have went “full chonk” last summer instead of getting fit. If he needed a little more time in working off “döner kebab”—weight, it might have set the course for him to not even have been on the field at the time he got hurt. THE WHOLE SPACE-TIME CONTINUUM WOULD BE DIFFERENT!
(IRL — aka not-tabloid edition — Sule’s “chonkiness” was always greatly exaggerated by the German media.)
What if...Arp never suffered a series of illness and injuries?
If there was a player who helped himself with solid preseason performances last summer it was Fiete Arp, who showed great promise at striker and on the flank for Bayern Munich. Unfortunately for the talented 20-year-old, Arp was felled by a rather serious illness in late August that caused him to miss 12 games before suffering a navicular bone fracture in late September that cost him 26 days.
Less than two weeks after he returned from the navicular bone injury, Arp suffered a serious arm injury in mid-November that kept him out another 38 days.
Perhaps the biggest mistake Kovac made was putting Arp out on the wing where he succumbed to the curse that has plagued Bayern Munich wingers for YEARS.
Those are just four “what ifs”...tell us yours below!