Bayern Munich is sadly not in action this week because they are not one of the teams remaining in the DFB-Pokal and not one of the teams Hertha Berlin must play against after the end of their quarantine. This means we have some time to look to the past and to look to the future of the club.
Should Bayern sign Tammy Abraham?
Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham is seemingly on the market! One of the clubs not linked with him is Bayern Munich. And yet, I claim to you that he would be a perfect signing for Bayern! Due to Chelsea’s transfer ban last season, Frank Lampard had to make do with what he could and Abraham stepped up as the leading striker; he struck 15 times in 34 appearances in the Premier League for his club.
This season, he has to make do with a role off the bench, especially since the arrival of Thomas Tuchel who seems to be trying everything he can to get Timo Werner into form; sometimes, Kai Havertz plays up top on his own as well. In his limited number of appearances, mostly off the bench, Abraham has scored 12 goals in 32 appearances in all competitions this season, quite a respectable return.
Abraham is rather valuable when it comes to hold-up play; he can lead the line but he can also act as a “false nine” with his skillset. He seems to have goal scoring instincts similar to that of Miroslav Klose; he knows where the goal is and he is usually to be found around it.
At 23, he is young and ambitious and ready to get on with it. He might find a friend at the club in Jamal Musiala; the new coach at Bayern is also someone who values youth. Does that mean that Abraham is a solution once Robert Lewandowski leaves one day? Not quite. But, given the chance to play and developed properly, he could improve over time. He has the grit of Mario Mandzukic; he works hard like Bayern’s former striker too and gives everything he can on the pitch.
Bayern made do with two excellent wingers and very good strikers in the past before Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery left. Mario Gomez, Mario Mandzukic, Ivica Olic, Miroslav Klose and Thomas Müller (a world class ‘Raumdeuter’) led the line at different points during those times until Lewandowski arrived. Tammy Abraham falls firmly into the category of “very good striker” for me.
Bayern desperately needs a backup striker aside from Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who, to his credit, has done an excellent job. Lewa will need more rest as he gets older; Nagelsmann is the kind of coach who likes to rotate. If Lewa breaks Gerd Müller’s record this season, playing him for 34 Bundesliga games next season seems rather pointless. Lewa’s injury exposed Bayern in the quarterfinal of the Champions League; a striker of good quality — a finisher, basically — could have won that tie for Bayern.
I think, if affordable, Bayern should give Abraham a shot. If they don’t want to sign him, a loan deal for a season to test the waters might be a good idea. Abraham can see that young and not fully established players from other clubs such as Kingsley Coman, Serge Gnabry, Musiala, Toni Kroos and more can indeed make it at Bayern. A player with his ambitions would, I think, be interested in taking up the challenge.
What can we expect from Julian Nagelsmann in the Champions League next season?
Nagelsmann has taken both of the Bundesliga sides he has managed into Europe. In his first season in charge of RB Leipzig, he took them all the way to the semifinals where they lost rather meekly to PSG. In his second season, his team survived a tough group consisting of PSG, Manchester United and Istanbul Basaksehir to qualify for the Round of 16. They lost out to Liverpool; however, in both the semifinal tie from last season and the Round of 16 tie this season, the goals conceded came down mostly to individual errors. Leipzig missed a striker of Werner’s caliber in both the ties as well. And so, one cannot put the blame on Nagelsmann’s shoulders for either loss, especially considering the budgets of the teams he was contending against.
At Bayern, he won’t have striker issues (winger issues are far more likely) and he will have excellent individual defenders to rely on, including one of his own in Dayot Upamecano. Bayern’s defense has leaked goals endlessly this season despite the fact that one could claim that Manuel Neuer is having one of his best ever seasons in a Bayern shirt.
Leipzig has defended rather well as a unit this season; it will be up to Nagelsmann to cut out the individual errors in his new side and ensure that they can defend well as a unit too. The squad of Bayern is the envy of many teams; if he can get the wing team of Bayern (Leroy Sané, Gnabry, Coman) going, he could definitely win it in his first season. However, despite that, Nagelsmann will have plenty of adjusting to do.
I think if he takes the team to the quarterfinals, he will have fulfilled his expectations in his first season, depending on the draw. If Bayern gets a tough draw and loses narrowly, Nagelsmann will have done his job; if Bayern gets thumped, regardless of injuries, he might be in a bit of a pickle. Either way, Hansi Flick is a ridiculously tough act to follow.
The real enemy of Bayern’s season
Everybody has blamed Bayern’s absentminded defense for exits from competitions this season. Conceding three at home in the quarterfinals of a Champions League game is not a good look for a club with world-class defenders. Jerome Boateng, David Alaba, Lucas Hernandez and even Niklas Süle are experienced campaigners; the goals Bayern conceded mostly comprised of individual errors.
However, the real enemy of Bayern is....the SNOW! Holstein Kiel took advantage of weather conditions to knock out Bayern in the DFB-Pokal and PSG did the same. Had the weather gods been kinder to Bayern, the conclusion of the current season might have looked rather different.
Before every big knockout game next season, the Bavarians should really consider consulting with the weather gods.
The Do’s and Don’ts for Julian Nagelsmann in his first season as Bayern coach
There are more seasoned Bayern fans than myself of course; from my time as a supporter, I think Nagelsmann would do well to do and not to do the following:
- Request one player and only one player you really want during the summer transfer window; Jupp Heynckes got his man in Javi Martinez and Pep Guardiola received Thiago, while Hansi Flick received Tiago Dantas.
- Practice an attacking brand of football; Niko Kovac defended with ten men behind the ball (Liverpool 0-0 Bayern) while Pep Guardiola played rather conservatively in his first season in the semifinal (Real Madrid 1-0 Bayern). Both times, the team handily lost the second leg for different reasons and just couldn’t adjust to playing a brand they were not used to.
- Listen to all the senior players; players’ voices at Bayern matter. When coaches stop listening to the players at this club, they don’t survive for very long afterward. All the managers who did well in Bayern had strong relationships with players.
- Give youth a chance; someone had to hand Müller a chance to turn him into the player he is now; that coach was Louis Van Gaal. Someone had to give Alphonso Davies a chance to make him into, if not the best, then one of the best Canadians ever, to grace the game; that coach was Niko Kovac and eventually, Flick. Flick also gave Musiala a chance to play a starring role against Lazio in the first leg of the quarterfinals in 2020/2021; he did so wonderfully. There are young players at Bayern who can make a difference. Some other youngsters who should get game time include Tanguy Nianzou, Josip Stanisic, Chris Richards (if he returns from loan), Marc Roca and Dantas (if he isn’t sold). Bayern plays enough games each season for some of these players to see reasonable amounts of playing time.
- Do not ever expect to see multiple players of your liking at the club. You will, undoubtedly, end up disappointed.
- Do not give unsupervised interviews to the press about big events. Things will not be easy in that case behind the scenes.
- Do not ever leave Thomas Müller on the bench in any big game; every coach who hasn’t trusted Müller since 2010 usually left the club without a treble, or even worse, was sacked. Müller is also the leader of this team and alienating Müller is risky, especially for a coach who is supposed to stay for five years.
- Do not ever substitute the goal scorer if you are in a Champions League final and leading 1-0 late on unless the scorer is an injury-prone Frenchman; standing ovations are for later.
- Do not involve yourself in lengthy discussions with Hasan Salihamidzic; you might not feel very well afterwards.
The loss of the appeal of the Premier League to me
On a final note, readers here may know that my family are supporters of Arsenal. I am a Bayern supporter through and through, who calmly and dutifully watches Arsenal games on the side. This morning, I struggled to care about Arsenal’s early kickoff against Newcastle and it had more to do with the recent events surrounding the European Super League than it did with the Gunners’ horrendous form of late.
I eventually got up to watch it and when I did, I was bombarded by news of the protests at Old Trafford prior to the game between Manchester United and Liverpool. I wasn’t apparently the only one feeling animosity toward an English club. Watching Chelsea and Manchester City (PSG as well), teams spending millions without a care in the world due to their ownership, in the Champions League has not been quite helpful either.
I would rather not hear from Pep Guardiola or Thomas Tuchel about the Super League, as managers of clubs who buy players and inflate market prices (Barcelona and Real Madrid are also responsible for price inflation of course), they are there to do a job and to advance their careers, but they are no less culpable in the commercialization of the game as leading voices. Guardiola’s decision to manage City, after running two traditional membership-based clubs, is a bit of a headscratcher to me but, of course, Pep is able to buy two teams if he needs to.
I have a feeling in my gut I don’t quite like. For years, I have heard the noises of rich owners taking over clubs in the Premier League and yet, with the Super League’s announcement, it felt closer to home.
A part of me is scared that eventually, these clubs will stop caring about their fans altogether knowing that their “product” will sell worldwide regardless. And that for me, a person who religiously follows the Bundesliga and is used to a culture where fans’ voices are routinely heard, is a shame.
That’s all from me! As always, thank you for reading!