As a confused lefthander who can’t commit (I throw a baseball lefthanded and a football righthanded), I still tend to favor the left side for most things — even if I do some things righthanded.
At Bayern Munich, which side of the field a player is set up on is once again proving to be very impactful.
Last season, Leroy Sané rejuvenated his season after Julian Nagelsmann started playing him on the left side of the pitch. Long a fan of inverted wingers, Bayern Munich’s brass had to relent on its right-wing agenda for Sané.
This season presented its own set of issues as newcomer Sadio Mané also scuffled to find consistency away from his favored left side. A natural right-footer, though, the decision to move the former Liverpool man back to where he is most comfortable, also allowed Bayern Munich to get back to having an attacker operated in an inverted manner in Nagelsmann’s 4-2-2-2.
For the manager, the Mané move was a necessity.
“I think that helped. That’s why we did it. He’s used to the position. It doesn’t surprise me that even a world-class player faces uncertainty, that’s normal. We have to make sure the players have confidence,” Nagelsmann said (as captured by @iMiaSanMia).
There is an elephant in the room, however. What if Bayern Munich decides to splurge on a dominant No. 9 next summer and transitions back to a 4-2-3-1 formation? How can the club get the most out of two players (Mané and Sané), who need to play on their favored left side with only one starting role available?
That is surely another problem for another time, but for this season, Nagelsmann is beginning to figure out what works best for each player — and is putting together plans to tap the full potential of this squad accordingly.