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BFW Commentary: Bayern Munich needs to find balance in its front office “Force”

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Be prepared for a few weeks of speculation about Hansi Flick’s future.

FC Bayern Muenchen v 1. FC Union Berlin - Bundesliga Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

After Bayern Munich’s unceremonious exit against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, the speculation almost immediate shifted to the future of manager Hansi Flick.

And yup, we are probably going to be suffering through weeks of stories on that very topic.

Whether it was Niko Kovac saying he had zero input into player moves — which made his move to Bayern Munich ultimately destined to be a failure before it really began — or the Keystone Kops-esque story on how sporting director Hasan “Brazzo” Salihamidzic fumbled Jerome Boateng’s contract discussions, the stories do not paint the front office situation in a good, united light.

Here is what we can ascertain to be true:

  • Flick and Salihamidzic do not have aligning thoughts for how to best build the squad’s roster.
  • Flick and Salihamidzic have had multiple disagreements over transfers, decision-making power, and squad planning.
  • The DFB badly wants Flick to be its next manager.
  • Coaches have very little say in personnel moves at Bayern Munich.

That’s it...that is all we can really count on to be true at this stage.

The other noise? Well, there is probably at least some truth that the front office is divided on support for Flick vs. Brazzo — so much so, that we are already getting these kind of tweets from international media outlets:

It’s been written here a million times that it is conceivable for both Flick and Salihamidzic to be great at their jobs — but it’s also possible for them to be incapable of working cohesively because their ideas do not align.

And that is where Bayern Munich is right now.

Whether anyone wants to admit it or now — and no matter what any contract reads — things are not looking good for retaining Flick at this stage.

Finding a manager who can communicate effectively, plan strategically, gain the trust of his players — and win — is not easy. Bayern Munich’s recent history tells that tale well.

FC Bayern Muenchen v 1. FC Union Berlin - Bundesliga
It’s not easy to find a great manager and Hansi Flick has been nothing short of brilliant at Bayern Munich.
Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

After Jupp Heynckes “retired” in 2013, Pep Guardiola came in with all of the pomp and circumstance you would expect. Guardiola was a good coach...an innovative coach, but he was not a manager who could push an extremely talented roster to the top of the mountain in Bavaria.

And maybe that is where the case study for limiting the power of coaches in squad planning discussions began? Guardiola openly campaigned for a number of players, but he could never lead that group of players to a Champions League crown. Perhaps Bayern Munich decided to rein in the requests from coaches after years of near-misses in the Champions League under Guardiola?

Maybe not all the way, though, as his successor had a pretty infamous player request.

Bayern Munich then hired Carlo Ancelotti for a disastrous run where it could be argued he was merely collecting a paycheck — while also employing his friends and family. It was Ancelotti who pushed for James Rodriguez. Rodriguez bamboozled his fan boys — and part of the Bayern Munich fan base — into thinking he actually wanted to be in Bavaria, when every action indicated he wanted out ASAP. From his public griping to his refusal to learn any German to being late for training to storming out of the locker room multiple times, James could not have sent more indicators that he never wanted to make that move.

AC Milan’s coach Carlo Ancelotti smokes
Carlo Ancelotti’s reign at Bayern Munich included the unsuccessful loan agreement for James Rodriguez.
Photo credit should read DAMIEN MEYER/AFP via Getty Images

After Heynckes returned to save a sinking ship when Ancelotti was let go, Bayern Munich hired Kovac, but his system was ill-fitting for Bayern Munich’s roster — so either he couldn’t run it or he was not allowed to run it, but either way he was starting behind the 8-ball.

Whatever the case — ultimately Kovac was forced to play a system he wasn’t comfortable with and had to coach players that he did not necessarily want. Whatever your thoughts are on Kovac, that arrangement was never going to work for him nor the club.

When Flick took over the light finally went on for the roster. The talent of most players was maximized. There was far less griping to the media about roles and playing time. Things were...harmonious — and successful.

So what’s the bottom line we can take from this recent history of coaches and their respective input into personnel moves? Bayern Munich might have good reason to limit input from its coaches, but the problem was that the club might have been listening to the wrong coaches.

Squad planning, roster building, and transfers must be a collaborative effort if you want to hire and retain great coaches. If there is one thing we have learned over the past few weeks, it’s that there might not be enough group-thinking going on at Bayern Munich these days.

It’s clear that one man holds more power than the rest and while he has some excellent moves in his portfolio — he’s also got a few duds. Absolute power doesn’t work and whether you’re in the camp of the manager or the sporting director, Bayern Munich’s future seems poised to go through yet another upheaval because of it.

Is it worth losing a brilliant, proven manager who the player’s trust?

We might soon find out the hard way.