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Hansi Flick was always the right choice for Bayern Munich

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For the post-Kovac Era, Hansi Flick is exactly what Bayern Munich needed.

FC Bayern Muenchen - Press Conference Photo by M. Donato/FC Bayern via Getty Images

When Bayern Munich formally announced that it had reached an agreement with Hansi Flick to manage the squad through the 2023 season, the news was met with both relief and jubilation from large segments of the Bavarian club’s fan base.

How Bayern Munich and Flick eventually got to this point, however, was not the result of a whim during this extended coronavirus-induced hiatus. Flick used the knowledge that he gleaned as assistant coach under Niko Kovac and developed a plan how to best approach this opportunity to show the club’s management team what he could offer.

The early results have proven that Flick’s demeanor, mindset, ideals, communication skills, and willingness to fight for what he believes in have not only rejuvenated the Bayern Munich roster, but also finally given the club a clearly defined strategic direction for the future. The days of scrambling from week to week on lineups and struggling to show a commitment to developing players seem long gone.

What did Flick do to achieve such success, while convincing his bosses that there is a clear path forward? Take a look below to see where the 55-year-old has done his finest work.

Building and repairing relationships

In the post-Kovac Era, Flick’s first order of business was opening up lines of communication. For some of the positives that Niko Kovac brought to the table, he had trouble maintaining relationships with his players. The sniping through the media from anonymous sources and the public complaints by others (heck, even Thomas Muller’s wife got involved) had created a simmering cauldron of discontent. It was not that Kovac was a bad guy or even a poor coach, it was just that he did not have a road map for how to achieve success in the bright lights of Bavaria.

Kovac alienated important players by failing to give a public rationale for his decisions. Was he under pressure from management to use certain players (e.g. Coutinho)? Perhaps, but the fact that Kovac seemingly did not carry enough weight to stand his ground on personnel decisions and to implement his own philosophy made his tenure tenuous from the start.

One of Flick’s first acts was to solidify and enhance the relationships he had with the roster and to open lines of communication with his players. Given the results — and the lack of griping — that openness has worked wonders in the locker room and on the pitch.

Recognizing the obvious

One of the primary decisions that Flick made was to end the seemingly years-long doubt surrounding the status of Müller on the squad. After Carlo Ancelotti and Kovac both took fair shots at displacing the Raumdeuter, Flick has given Muller the assurance that a starting XI spot is his to lose.

After almost four years (minus the brief Jupp Heynckes comeback tour), Müller has taken shot after shot like a German Jason Vorhees and has shrugged off all roster competition. In doing so, Müller out-performed both James Rodriguez and Philippe Coutinho, but always had the daunting task of starting each season fighting managerial doubts. For Bayern, more Müller has meant more wins, but Flick’s decisions don’t end with Müller.

The genius idea to shift David Alaba to center-back and utilize Alphonso Davies at left-back has solidified Bayern Munich’s entire back-line. Benjamin Pavard looks more confident at right-back, and Jerome Boateng looks better than he has at any point in the previous four seasons.

The Flick Effect is apparently contagious.

Dedication to balance

Flick’s strategic vision is not just based on winning today; it is also committed to raising the next great wave of Bayern Munich football.

Translation: Flick’s mind is not just on the Meisterschale for this season and the next.

Flick wants to best utilize the talent on his current roster while fostering an environment where youth players can train with the first team and have a genuine opportunity at minutes at the Allianz Arena. Being a rich club that can compete financially to buy the best talent is great, but developing — and fine tuning — skilled youth is arguably just as important for the future well-being of the club.

Challenging Brazzo

For all of the fine work he has done as the club’s sporting director, Hasan “Brazzo” Salihamidzic has shown a strong attraction to new and shiny things. When it comes to roster decisions, that allure can sometimes create obvious issues that Brazzo races past. It is not that Brazzo can’t handle his responsibilities, but as in many walks of life, a different voice or a different set of ideas can sometimes help avoid potential issues or disruption.

One of Flick’s best power moves while at the helm at Bayern Munich has been his willingness to speak to the media about why he views a manager’s input as crucial for roster management and to challenge the club’s management structure.

Again, Brazzo has done an admirable job, but he rolled right over Niko Kovac on personnel decisions. Flick has stood up for himself and his own priorities, and the club has heard him.

Moving forward

Ultimately, Flick’s legacy at Bayern Munich will be measured by the additions he makes to the club’s trophy case, but his mindset, communication skills, and willingness to trust his instincts on the pitch and in the boardroom make a combination that the Bavarians need right now.

And whether you were team #StickWithFlick or on the #FlickOff bandwagon, it is time to let the results play out. For those willing to go all-in with the former German national team assistant coach, repeat after me:

FLICKI-FLACKA, FLICKI-FLACKA, FLICKI-FLACKA — Oi! Oi! Oi!

FLICKI-FLACKA, FLICKI-FLACKA, FLICKI-FLACKA — Oi! Oi! Oi!