Bayern Munich’s worst four-game Bundesliga run in two decades is causing no shortage of consternation at Säbener Straße and provoking an all-hands-on-deck response, as head coach Julian Nagelsmann and team brass alike focus in on what’s going wrong and how to fix it. While Nagelsmann is reportedly diving into film study (per Bild, via @iMiaSanMia), the bosses, per The Athletic, are focused on player attitude and effort.
To be sure, this is not — at least not obviously — a chaotic descent into finger-pointing so much as it is a professional club engaging all its efforts to right the course. After the 1-0 defeat to FC Augsburg, Bayern’s first loss of the season, Nagelsmann declared: “I’m thinking about all things. About the situation, about myself, about everything.”
And defensive stalwart Lucas Hernández had already stated prior to that game: “...it has to do with attitude...to be honest, the things that helped us win two games in a row in the Champions League, we rarely brought them to the pitch in the Bundesliga.”
So if the Bayern board are agreeing that “lackadaisical” attitude needs to improve, it’s not only coaches but at least some of the players that feel the same way. Whatever Bayern have shown in the Champions League in their commendable triumphs over Inter Milan and FC Barcelona, it simply hasn’t been the same energy back in league play — dozens upon dozens of chances and possession dominance or not.
Identifying a problem is one thing; fixing it is another. The international break couldn’t have come at a better time for the squad. If there’s one aspect particularly worrying about this, it’s that the attitude problem had already been identified, and not one or two but three warning shots delivered — all before the worst result of them all, the loss to Augsburg.
And The Athletic reporting contains some curious warning signs for the manager as well:
Nagelsmann, according to the consensus at board level, could be a better man-manager, more discernible in his choice of partner, more grown-up in his behaviour and a little luckier with some of his tactical tweaks, but he isn’t seen as the main culprit for this string of lazy performances. Not yet, at any rate.
According to Sky (as captured by @iMiaSanMia), Nagelsmann has these objectives for improvement:
- Stronger leadership style
- Professionalize his external image
- Place more responsibility on the players
- Improve the buildup play
That’s an awfully specific — and peculiarly wide-ranging — list of “needs improvement” areas for a manager who is not currently under examination. Bild even suggested Nagelsmann’s fashion choices are on this list, though perhaps we’ll get to that later.
Public backing, or are all the knives coming out? We’re about to learn a lot about every aspect of this team — players, coaches, and indeed the bosses themselves — in how they manage and respond to this crisis.
Bayern return to Bundesliga action on Friday, September 30, against Bayer 04 Leverkusen at the Allianz Arena. For now, it’s a chance for everyone to catch their collective breath.