It started on Thursday night when a report from Sport1 stated that some players were unhappy with their roles and playing time at Bayern Munich. This alleged anger was corroborated by Bild the next day.
The rumored bitterness eventually evolved into two more reports (Bild, kicker) that broke on Sunday stating that an unnamed player was really displeased with the state of affairs and that the locker room did not enjoy Julian Nagelsmann’s inability to shoulder any blame for the squad’s recent run of mediocre play.
So...what should we believe at this stage? Let’s take a look.
Are there players complaining about their playing time and roles?
This is 100% believable. Locker rooms on professional teams are not filled with BFFs and LOLs all the time. It is a sport and a business where players have dedicated their lives to “making it.” There are big egos, bigger salaries, and massive amounts of desire to be on the pitch. So, yeah, inevitably there are players who think they deserve more playing time — and a consistent starting role.
By my count, Bayern Munich has an astonishing 18 starting level players...which seems like an incredibly hard number to manage: Manuel Neuer, Benjamin Pavard, Noussair Mazraoui, Matthijs de Ligt, Lucas Hernandez, Dayot Upamecano, Alphonso Davies, Josip Stanišić, Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Marcel Sabitzer, Ryan Gravenberch, Thomas Müller, Sadio Mané, Leroy Sané, Jamal Musiala, Serge Gnabry, and Kingsley Coman.
There is no way for Nagelsmann to keep all of them happy, but hey, that is part of the gig, you know?
Okay, but are they uneasy about the formation and the tactics as well?
Undoubtedly, yes. You will never find a locker room where every player is thrilled and second-guessing coaching decisions is among an athlete’s birthrights in most places, so for sure, there are some issues. At this stage, this is all normal.
Is Julian Nagelsmann on the hot seat? Should he be?
Just because some players might — or might not — be unhappy with the way Nagelsmann is scheming for matches or how he handles “the blame game” after poor showings, does not mean anyone at the club is clamoring to pull the trigger on sacking the manager.
Surely, there are unhappy players (there is far too much talent on the squad to stay content on riding the bench), but also assuredly, there are players perturbed about their playing time/role on every team, everywhere (Even down to Tom Adams’ beer league squad...Joe the accountant probably should be getting more time at attacking midfield, but who am I to say?).
Regardless, it is was too early to think about canning Nagelsmann and it is very unlikely anyone at Bayern Munich is pondering that action right now. Any such decision would be a panic move and that does not fit Bayern Munich’s modus operandi.
What about Thomas Tuchel, he’s available? Should Bayern act now if they have doubts about Nagelsmann?
There is very little chance that Bayern Munich would risk bringing in a coach who has been so polarizing at every stop right now. I think there would have to be a massive meltdown, public griping to the media, and consistent, public arguing between coaches and players for Bayern Munich to consider this option any time soon.
Tuchel is a short-term band-aid, anyway. He’s super-talented, but also alienated every locker room he manages. That is the last type of manager this Bayern Munich squad needs.
But what about the mole...who is it? And the unnamed source?
We are kidding, of course. We’ve had a long-running inside joke about who the mole is in the Bayern Munich locker room, but in reality, it is likely multiple players using their contacts in the media.
While some dismiss unnamed sources (surely, there is a reason to), often, players will speak under a condition of anonymity to get their message out —without having to feel the heat form teammates, the coaches, or the club.
It is not any journalist’s preferred way to operate, but sometimes it is the only way to get a player — or any other sources from within an organization — to speak openly.
As a fan, should I be worried?
Not yet. There is a long way to go this season and Bayern Munich STILL has not lost a match.
So...are the wheels coming off at the worst time?
No...even if Bayern Munich loses to FC Barcelona, things are not that bad yet. There is no reason to panic or even get angry. This team is learning how to play together under this coach. It will take time given how many transfers and changes have occurred.
Sure, it could be better, but it also could be a lot worse. Let it all play out...as the old adage goes, this season is a marathon, not a sprint.