This is never a good sign. Whenever a Bayern Munich coach starts waffling over Thomas Muller, that means something has gone wrong behind the scenes. Unfortunately, Julian Nagelsmann is showing signs of that particular brain slug, as in today’s press conference he refused to confirm whether Thomas Muller would start against Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
Right after explicitly confirming that Ryan Gravenberch and Kingsley Coman would be making the lineup on the backs of solid performances versus Koln. However, when the media asked the next obvious question, the coach simply couldn’t provide a straight answer.
You confirmed that Gravenberch and Coman will start tomorrow. Can you confirm Müller too?— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) January 27, 2023
Nagelsmann: "We spoke about this topic a lot lately, nothing has changed. I haven't decided yet. There are a few positions still to be decided" pic.twitter.com/4MtCUfHmPV
This has been the pattern ever since the Bundesliga restart — the media grills Nagelsmann on the Muller situation, and he gives a non-committal “some positions will be decided” type answer which satisfies no one. This had led to Muller being benched for two successive games, and it seems like Frankfurt will become the third. The last time the player was fit and missed that many games under a single coach was Niko Kovac, back in the dark days on 2019.
It’s honestly a symptom of a more worrying problem — that Nagelsmann knows he needs Thomas Muller on the pitch, but can’t figure out a way to get in him the XI without disturbing his “ideal” lineup. Jamal Musiala was planned as an attacking midfielder for this part of the season, but that is looking like a dud so far. Meanwhile, using Muller as a backup striker benefits no one. After two consecutive draws, the coach is under pressure to get points, and he knows how bad the Muller situation looks.
If he doesn’t start tomorrow, things could get very ugly soon.