Author’s Note: Well, hello and welcome back to another episode of Muller_Era losing their mind over stuff. If you’re new here, please run before you lose your mind as well. Apparently, I’m pretty contagious.
Anyway, life check; exams have been frying me and this article is huge, even in my standards.
"In the Bundesliga, you have Bayern Munich, and they win it every year. Or Dortmund."
It is a common belief that Bayern don’t struggle in the Bundesliga and have a stronghold on the league to a point where the title race is almost always non-existent. The truth, however, is that the title race isn’t always straightforward, and it takes a lot to stay on top. Bundesliga teams almost always give their everything against Bayern, with high hopes of at least holding the Deustchermeister, if not defeating them.
However, ever since the start of the 2021-22 season, Bayern have not been exactly performing their best consistently and despite that, the team maintains a strong advantage on the title race to a point where nine-point leads, and six-point leads have become commonplace. This phenomenon, is obviously a subtle interplay of several factors, ranging from the team’s love for only sporadically showing up and battering the opposition, to the fact that there’s a lot more to the inconsistency than meets the eye.
However, a reason that a lot of (serious) fans have pointed out happens to be the hypothesis that the league itself is no longer as competitive as it used to be. To understand this carefully, we need to look at each team and try break down what exactly went wrong over the course of this season (and the previous one as well, if required).
Most Bundesliga teams have a certain "life cycle" of sorts. They find amazing young prospects, develop them, build a team with several players like that and sell them, and nochmals, the same story repeats. This has to do with the fact that most of these clubs have very limited capital to start with, and this model helps keep them afloat. But of course, this cycle of selling isn’t their biggest revenue system. Ticket sales happen to be the lifeline of almost every club since TV revenue (in the Bundesliga) is almost always too little to make ends meet. With the pandemic, most clubs have been sucked dry due to the number of Geisterspiele or ‘ghost games’. I did a bit of digging, and it turns out that with just the 2019-20 season, where 9 games were left to be played, clubs reported an average loss (compared to the previous year) of 5.4% in revenue, due to the incurred loss of nearly €150M in ticket sales.
Clubs like Borussia Mönchengladbach are the most affected by ghost games. The shock exit of Max Eberl and his last press conference revealed volumes about the present state of Gladbach, along with the failed negotiations of Matthias Ginter and Denis Zakaria. Not only are Gladbach failing to perform on the pitch, but also have they been falling apart internally ever since the pandemic began. Any other Bundesliga club in their position would’ve sacked the manager, given the nightmarish run of results they’ve been seeing, but Gladbach find themselves unable to sack Adi Hütter due to their financial handicap.
RB Leipzig, on the other hand, found themselves in a rather confusing state of affairs, much unlike Gladbach. With Nagelsmann’s departure, and that of Upamecano and Sabitzer, Leipzig had lost two crucial leaders and their talisman manager. Leipzig, however, bounced back from this loss at the speed of light, by signing the likes of Silva, Gvardiol and Simakan, whom Bayern can only dream of signing. But this didn’t stop the club from witnessing an ugly downward spiral. With a series of poor tactical choices, the new head coach, Jesse Marsch, found himself in an ugly situation, as Leipzig were in the bottom half of the table nearing Christmas, forcing him and the club had to part ways. Leipzig quickly replaced him with Domenico Tedesco, who shocked the entire league by completely restructuring the previously hapless Leipzig side into a force to fear. However, the lack of competition they supplied in the Hinrunde has had a massive negative impact on the league.
Borussia Dortmund is a curious specimen of a club. On its day, the most fearsome club in Germany after Bayern and at other times, their non-existent defence humbles them, like during the game against Hertha Berlin. Their recent dealings with Süle make it seem like they actually care about squad building, but I couldn’t say that for sure until I see a competent backline next season. (Don’t get me wrong but at times, it seems like Watzke and Zorc are more focused on the Haaland saga than they are on squad building.) Also, these guys often enough seem to beg for their attack to bail them out, as their defending seems nearly non-existent and they’re simply waiting for the opposition to make an error so they can launch a counter. This is obviously terrible coming from Germany’s second biggest club and one can only pray that the management make some much-needed signings in summer. (OOC but the Europa game against Rangers was… let’s move on.)
BVB started what I like to call ‘The Great Bundesliga Manager Carousel’. On sacking Favre, they signed Rose from Gladbach. On another side, Oliver Glasner and the SD of Wolfsburg have a falling-out and Glasner leaves the club for Frankfurt, where Hütter had just left. Wolfsburg sign (an incompetent) Mark van Bommel, who crashes their season spectacularly. Köln get Steffen Baumgart from Paderborn. Leverkusen get Gerry Seoane and- the point is, I don’t want to confuse you poor souls with this confusing mess.
Practically every club was undergoing a transition period this season. Settling in with new coaches is not easy. This happens to be yet another reason why the league’s competitiveness went down. To put things in perspective, some of these appointments went well, like Steffen Baumgart and Seoane; some appointments took time, like Glasner. And some appointments just took the club in the reverse stonks direction, like van Bommel at Wolfsburg. And some appointments, I simply can’t explain.
To outline, the main reasons for the lack of competitiveness in the league are fiscal handicaps, individual disaster-classes by big clubs and the league-wide managerial changes.
However, there is one last thing I want cover quickly, and that is the phenomenon of "IDGAF" clubs. This entails clubs like Hertha Berlin, Bielefeld and Augsburg, whose greatest achievements every year happen to be that of staying in the league and not getting relegated. I, for one, have nothing but contempt for the way Hertha is being run. The management seems to not give a frick and just makes pointless managerial appointments. The recent sacking of Korkut has pushed me to a point of exasperation with the club. The attitude of these clubs needs changing for the league to improve, but honestly there’s not much that you can expect out of these clubs anyway.
Edit: looks like Hertha's management is finally doing something right. Highly impressed w their win against Hoffenheim. Magath is bringing the best out of their talented youngsters.
To end on a more positive note, clubs I’ve been obsessed with this season happen to be Freiburg, Union and Hoffenheim. (I’m obsessed with Union 24/7 anyway sigh)
And that’s it, from Muller_Era for this month.
Will be back from another rant next month, I guess.
Thank you all for reading.