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Tempering Expectations at Bayern Munich ahead of the 2022/23 season: Part 1

In the first of a three part series, we discuss what might happen if Julian Nagelsmann does not find a fixed formation among other things.

Sadio Mané watches his shot as the DC United goalkeeper stretches to save it.
Bayern will need as much help from Mané as they can get in the 2022-2023 season.
Photo by S. Mellar/FC Bayern via Getty Images

Bayern Munich has a very interesting season ahead considering the newcomers in the team. I am here to temper expectations ahead of the season by discussing some possible scenarios. Let us take a look at two possible what-ifs:

What-if #1: Julian Nagelsmann cannot find a formation

Nagelsmann likes to tinker and sometimes, even tinker too much. Louis Van Gaal, Jupp Heynckes and Hansi Flick had relied on a fixed system to make Bayern tick. Nagelsmann leaves us all guessing on most match-days; we couldn’t figure out how the defense would line up last season and now, how the offense will line up is up in the air too.

Bayern teams of the past and present which I can recall tended to stick to one style of play throughout a season; Heynckes did revert to a counterattacking style of play in the Champions League but stuck with a dynamic and proactive 4-5-1 throughout most of his last two tenures at Bayern. The trouble is, there is not that much precedent from the past decade to rely on to see how a Bayern team will function without a fixed formation.

Nagelsmann does not seem to be the most patient coach to me; if a formation does not work or a system does not work after a few games, I can see him change the system again. Without too much precedent, how Bayern will adjust without a fixed formation is up in the air. I think the players in the squad work better when they each understand their role in one solid system. If Nagelsmann cannot find a fixed formation which works for the team, there might just be too many whispers about the coach to ignore by the time the Winter Break comes around.

What-if #2: A striker-less system doesn’t work

No Robert Lewandowski. Let me reiterate — no Robert Lewandowski. Even with Mathys Tel, Bayern players are used to looking for Lewandowski. This is not about to change overnight. Humans are creatures of habit and for the longest serving Bayern players, it is an eight-year-old habit. There were only two preseason friendlies but the second one showed that Bayern might just struggle a tad without a front man. Let’s get one thing straight while we can — Sadio Mané is not supposed to be a lone striker. Cristiano Ronaldo converted himself into a front-man but not everybody is Ronaldo.

I have heard the argument that many of the top sides do not play with a front man. The last three Champions League winners played with a definitive front man — Karim Benzema, Kai Havertz and Robert Lewandowski; I think having a defined striker is really useful because the real reason so many top class teams function without one is because there are so few strikers around who genuinely play at the highest level.

If a striker-less system fails, don’t be surprised to see Bayern contact options near home (Patrick Schick is not for sale I hear) if not far away from home (a quick chat with Harry Kane might not seem so far-fetched then) as the Winter Break approaches.

That’s it for your doom and gloom for the day! Thank you for reading!

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