Whether it was the uneven performances in the Bundesliga, the humiliating DFB-Pokal loss, or the embarrassing, unexpected exit from the Champions League, something was just not right with Bayern Munich this season.
At times, the squad looked ruthlessly efficient and dominant — and other junctures, the team look unmotivated, lethargic, confused, and lacked focus.
When assessing it all, though, it can only be determined that the 2021/22 version of the Rekordmeister has underachieved. Sure, there are many reasons for that, but let’s take a look and see if we can identify exactly what the biggest issue was.
Here are some reasons, things might have went off the rails:
A new coach — and a new system — require time
Julian Nagelsmann’s first season on Säbener Straße was never going to be easy. Not only did Nagelsmann have to fill the shoes of his extremely successful predecessor Hansi Flick, but Nagelsmann was going to begin the process of shifting the team into the vision he has — one that might not fit with what many fans wanted.
Was it unrealistic to think Nagelsmann was going to be able to step in and lead the club to a double or a treble? Maybe...but there should not have been as significant a drop-off in how the team looked at key moments on the pitch.
Nagelsmann will get more time to establish himself, but patience is already wearing thin for many fans (and maybe some players, too). The coach surely knows that he has to be better net season.
The front office didn’t do enough to equip Nagelsmann with the tools he needed to be successful
There appears to have been a lack of cohesion between the front office and the coaching staff on exactly what formation would be in play and how Nagelsmann wanted to run his squad.
The club left the manager with no player who fit the profile for a right wing-back on its roster aside of Bouna Sarr (okay, he fit the profile, but has not good with Bayern Munich). The front office also inked Kingsley Coman to a new contact — and is currently talking to Serge Gnabry regarding a new deal to play a position (wing) that might not even be part of Nagelsmann’s long-term plan.
Moreover, the club’s acquisitions did not live up to expectations. Dayot Upamecano had a decent season, but struggled with consistency for large swaths of time. Marcel Sabitzer, who was brought into fill a key role as a contingency plan in the midfield, but never got on track, and might have been the impetus for the club to consider moving Jamal Musiala into a deeper role.
Even the situation with Niklas Süle left a bad taste in the mouth of many people. Nagelsmann talked up Süle and how he wanted to keep him, only to see the Germany international decide to walk away after the season because the he felt underappreciated by the club. Now, to cover up for that mess, the club will likely overpay Noussair Mazraoui’s salary to come in and play as a right wing-back and could also have to pay for another center-back — one that will surely not have the talent and skillet of Süle.
Perhaps offering a better deal Süle initially and re-building what was clearly a fractured relationship would have been a pathway to follow.
Too many variations on his formation and style of play
Nagelsmann might have talked publicly about sticking with the 4-2-3-1, but it was not long until he added some major tweaks to it. The former RB Leipzig boss empowered Alphonso Davies to put his defensive responsibilities to background and focus on attacking, which created a hybrid set-up. That subtle shift would obviously be an issue at the absolute worst time for Nagelsmann against Villarreal. Davies’ ungodly talent still needs to be refined and his poor positioning led to many instances this season where his fellow defenders faced unnecessary pressure because he was give free reign to attack.
By hedging with a hybrid formation and then shifting into so many variations of formations, Bayern Munich often looked out of sync, choppy, and hesitant and had many bouts with poor positioning as a squad.
The players never full bought into Nagelsmann’s plans
Sure, there was talk of excitement and respect from the players, but the reality of how things would play out left some unhappy. When shifting between the 4-2-3-1, the hybrid 4-2-3-1, and the 3-4-2-1 formations, roles and responsibilities changed — and there were issues.
Two prominent reportedly veterans reportedly voiced their concerns with the tactics. Serge Gnabry openly talked about his desire to play centrally in Nagelsmann’s formation rather than wing-back. Leroy Sane recently gave Nagelsmann the cold shoulder while exiting a match. Benjamin Pavard hit the media to speak about his desire to play center-back. Josip Stanisic complained about his ever-shrinking presence on the squad.
There were other instances as well, but the transition to a new coach and new system was never going to be smooth. Now, the key moving forward will be how Nagelsmann molds the group for season two of this exercise.
The players underperformed
This might be a hard pill to swallow, but at the most key times, Bayern Munich’s players were just not good enough. In the DFB-Pokal, the squad was shellacked by Borussia Mönchengladbach in an unfocused, unprepared, and sloppy showing. In the first leg against Villarreal, the Bavarians were equally as uninspired and lacked tenacity and urgency. There were also different bouts with consistency in form for the entire squad over the course of the season.
You could easily argue that players like Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Müller, Leroy Sane, and Joshua Kimmich all saw their performance flame out at the worst point in the season. From those players, a late season slump would be too much for any squad to overcome.
It has to be better from the players.
Too many distractions
Welcome to FC Hollywood Jules, here’s your map...good luck finding your way through! That was essentially how things appeared at times from the outside.
If managing the situation around Süle was not difficult enough, Nagelsmann had to wade through the waters of contracts talks for Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, and Kingsley Coman. Coman’s negotiations were extremely contentious at times. In addition, the uncertain futures of Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer, and Serge Gnabry have all been played out in the media — something that certainly affected the mentality of the team as a whole and the individual players.
So, yeah, the end results tell us that Bayern Munich has underachieved — and while it is extremely doubtful that the Bavarians will cough up their stranglehold on the Bundesliga, a collapse at the end of the season here would throw this situation from disappointment to absolute chaos.
Don’t expect that to happen, though. This team is still good enough, talented enough, and coached well enough to hang on to the league crown.
Next season, however, the coaching and the talent alike, will have far less room for error. There are still dozens of reasons to he optimistic and hopeful for 2022/23, but some things will have to change for Bayern Munich to ultimately achieve all of its goals.
Tell us who you think was most to blame for the club underachieving this season in the poll and in the comments...
Who was most at fault for the feeling that Bayern Munich’s underachieved this season?
This poll is closed
The front office — They did a poor job with squad planning over the years and it came to a head this season.
The players — They underperformed, especially on the biggest stages and at the worst times.
The coaching staff — They were not ready for Bayern Munich and to deal with everything that comes with it.
The fans — Expectations were too high and should have been toned down. You can’t underachieve if expectations are low!
Other — Tell us in the comments below.
Bavarian Podcast Works: Weekend Warm-up Podcast Season 1, Episode 45
What a week...and not in a good way. Bayern Munich edged FC Augsburg, but subsequently was bounced from the Champions League by Villarreal, saw transfer news break on several key players, and might have thrown its hat back in the ring for a center-back.
The big news, however, was that aforementioned UCL exit, which we will talk about and discuss. Otherwise, here is what we have on tap for this episode:
- An in depth look at what Bayern Munich might need to do to be at a level to contend for the Champions League for next season.
- A personal heat check on where I am with Julian Nagelsmann.
- It’s decision time on a few key veterans. Should they stay or should they go?
- The latest news on the contract negotiations/transfer status of Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry.
- Bayern Munich’s re-entry into the transfer market for a center-back. Who can they get? Who should they get?
Song of the Week: “Hang Me Up to Dry” by Cold War Kids
Released in 2007, Cold War Kids unleashed this classic that still holds up all of these years later. Give it a listen and if you haven’t heard it before, hopefully you like it:
Bavarian Podcast Works: Preview Show — Arminia Bielefeld vs. Bayern Munich
As much as many players, coaches, and fans might not be ready for it, Bayern Munich has to get back to work.
After a thoroughly disappointing elimination from the Champions League, Julian Nagelsmann is going to have to rally his troops to snap out of their funk and work on capturing another Bundesliga crown.
Fatigued, weary, and probably a little banged up, Bayern Munich will face Arminia Bielefeld in a match that the Bavarians need to have in order to keep their stranglehold on the table’s top position.
Let’s take a look at what is on tap for this episode:
- A quick chat on the after-effects of the Villarreal loss.
- A look at where each team is in the table and each squad’s recent form.
- A guess on how Nagelsmann is going to align his boys against Arminia Bielefeld.
- A prediction on the match.
The biggest question about this match is not whether or not Bayern Munich will win, but how Julian Nagelsmann will line his team up? Will he rest veterans ahead of next week’s Der Klassiker? Will any young players get an extended run? What formation will be in play?
Certainly, Nagelsmann has some decisions to make and to figure out how to best get his team equipped to close out the Bundesliga season in a convincing and meaningful manner. The thought process here is that Bayern Munich will probably not be great, but will still push aside Arminia Bielefeld.
Prediction: Arminia Bielefeld 0-3 Bayern Munich
Other Bundesliga predictions include:
- FC Augsburg 2-1 Hertha Berlin
- Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Wolfsburg
- SC Freiburg 2-1 VfL Bochum
- Mainz 05 1-0 VfL Stuttgart
- Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-2 FC Köln
- Hoffenheim 3-1 SpVgg Greuther Fürth
- Union Berlin 1-1 Eintracht Frankfurt
- Bayer Leverkusen 1-2 RB Leipzig
Last Bundesliga Match Day record: 7-2
Overall Bundesliga record: 136-125
DFB-Pokal record: 1-1
DFL-Supercup record: 1-0
Champions League record: 7-3
Overall record: 145-129