They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and a gnashing of teeth.
Four games without a win in the Bundesliga is a crisis for a team like Bayern Munich. It is such a rare event in the last decade it would only be a slight exaggeration to call it a crisis of biblical proportions.
As sports fans and more specifically fans of Bayern Munich how should we react?
With eager anticipation. We are about to learn something about the character of the players who make up the core of this Bayern side.
There is a Chinese proverb that says, “Out of the hottest fire comes the strongest steel” and it is meant to sturdy one against fear of suffering. Every culture has similar ancient wisdom (“anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm” etc) because the underlying concept is simply true. You don’t really get to understand one’s own strength of character until you are sorely tested.
This team is being sorely tested, we are about to see it’s character revealed for good or ill.
The helm is held by a young coach whose tactical thinking is avant-garde and widely respected. Yet he is not much older than most of his players and he does not yet have multiple successes to fall back on like many of his predecessors did. We are about to learn a lot about Nagelsmann’s ability to get the best out of his team.
More importantly we are about to learn a great deal about the players that make up this iteration of Bayern. While Nagelsmann does not have a cabinet full of silverware at home, many of our players do. We are about to learn if that silverware was earned through the collection of an overwhelming amount of talent or through strong character and grit.
The veteran players have to lead. Not all of them, but some of them. Someone, or a couple of guys amongst the attackers have to take this team by the scuff of the neck and carry it over the line. Leading doesn’t always have to be vocal, it can be physical or demonstrative. But when a crisis hits, great leaders have to emerge if this team is to hold onto it’s rightful place at the top of the Bundesliga table.
Is radio Müller really a coach on the pitch or did he build his unbelievable assist numbers on the coat-tails of the great striker who just left for sunny Spain?
Is Kimmich a true warrior who is born to be the captain of Germany and Bayern or is he just a guy who yells a lot?
Are Neuer’s best days behind him?
Unanswered questions are what engage and excite fans. People turn off a 5-0 game but they rarely walk away from a 3-3 match with ten minutes to play.
As a long time Bayern and sports fan this is the best of times for me. I am on the edge of my seat and I am about to learn something about the men I cheer for and invest my passion in.
This international break could not come at a better time. All of our players need to look inside themselves and see what each of them, individually, can do to raise up their game and the team. The ones who chose to look outside themselves have already lost the plot.
This season, for good or ill does not simply offer “more of the same.” It’s going to be something fresh and different.
As a fan, pass me some more rauchbier and put a couple (okay maybe more than a couple) of sausages in the air fryer. I’m all fired up and can’t wait to see what will happen next.