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BFW Commentary: How Bayern Munich went to war with Manuel Neuer

There is likely more than meets the eye with Manuel Neuer vs. Bayern Munich.

Costa Rica v Germany: Group E - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

Unless you have been living under rock, you have at least been paying a little bit of attention to the ongoing drama at Bayern Munich, which now involves Toni Tapalovic, Julian Nagelsmann, Manuel Neuer, Yann Sommer, Alexander Nübel, Oliver Kahn, Hasan “Brazzo” Salihamidzic, Herbert Hainer, Joshua Kimmich, and Uli Hoeneß (!?).

Some of the major details of why things have escalated are below:

Even after all of that, things are still much, in fact, that the club is putting together all of its decision-makers to come up with some sort of official reaction rather than the current solution, which appears to be a firing squad of retorts.

As indicated in the story we saw just a few days ago, some observers are speculating that Neuer’s captainship could be stripped. However, that is a move that might not yield the results that the club desires. Right now — like it or not — there appears to be some perception in the locker room that the club is backing the coach over the players in matters of contention these days. With Neuer, who appears to be universally respected by his peers, a sudden change might not be well-received and would represent a risk.

Let’s also throw in the fact that Nagelsmann waited until Neuer was off the grid to make the Tapalovic sacking. Clearly, whatever the issue was (pick one: treatment of other goalkeepers, mole-like behaviour, clash in coaching styles, interpersonal dynamics), it was there before Neuer broke his leg. To be clear, Nagelsmann should be able to hire or fire whoever he wants from his staff as he sees fit (and by all accounts, Nagelsmann wanted his own goalkeeper coach to come in from the outset at Bayern Munich). At the time, though, Neuer’s contract negotiations probably played a big role in that not happening.

However, firing Tapalovic when he did, came across to some as very weak and underhanded because of the timing. The perception of Neuer needing to be away for the move to happen cannot be ignored.

Communication breakdown

In addition to those aforementioned issues, Nagelsmann’s communication skills have been called into question at the start of the season and also recently, particularly with rising star Jamal Musiala — the crown jewel of the club.

When you factor in the other reports stating that Nagelsmann often circumvents Neuer — and vice captain Thomas Müller — it did make some questions arise. However, we saw the most recent report state that Nagelsmann is going to Kimmich more for tactical, on-field type situations, which makes sense given Kimmich’s position as a central midfielder, who rarely leaves the field.

Either way, Neuer’s role as captain is also not to always tow the company line; it is to lead the men in the locker room. While we know for sure that Neuer was unhappy with the Tapalovic sacking, he was not the only one. As kicker’s Georg Holzner pointed out (as captured by @iMiaSanMia):

Some teammates showed solidarity with Manuel Neuer following his recent interview. The captain enjoys huge appreciation in the dressing room. Neuer’s plan remains to get back on the pitch next season as #1, he’s not thinking about leaving or retiring.

Undoubtedly, judging by some of the recent reports that indicated that many players spoke highly of Tapalovic and were stunned by the move, it likely was not overly popular as well. As Sport1 reported:

As SPORT1 knows, most Bayern players found out about the separation decision via the WhatsApp group. Many stars were therefore surprised and some dismayed. The reason: Despite all the problems with Nagelsmann and the coaching team, Tapalovic was very well accepted by many leading players.

A legitimate issue in the locker room, or much ado about nothing?

Was Neuer’s interview barrage his way to let the club’s brass know that not everything is how it should be — or was he just acting in a selfish manner to complain? Was it maybe a little bit of both? Like the club’s reaction to his statements, we can ascertain that Neuer’s decision to go to the media was not on a whim.

Could Neuer could have handled it better than holding two separate interviews airing his grievances, though? For sure, but any assertion that Neuer talking to the media is “unauthorized” is a joke. Neuer needs no “authorization” to talk to a journalist. Neuer is a respected veteran, a Champions League winner, a World Cup winner, and the team captain.

Still, if given the opportunity for a “do over”, Neuer might have tried to make further headway with his bosses before igniting a firestorm of controversy.

Unspoken bitterness?

No matter what some of the public statements were regarding Neuer’s injury, the club surely could not have been happy about his decision to take a ski trip in the middle of the season (and rightfully so).

Within this whole situation, there appears to be some hurt feelings and maybe even some bitterness from all sides. Even without a formal crisis, there is definitely a breakdown in communication or in the relationship between the coach and the team leader of some sort — and things appear to steamrolling toward a situation that is going to create even more friction if things are left to simmer. Last we heard, Bayern Munich has put off doling out its punishment — or making a judgement on to proceed with Neuer — until after the Paris Saint-Germain tie (which does and should sound ominous).

If you really want throw the tinfoil hat on, you can make the assertion that all of this is just the set up for the club to part ways with Neuer after this season.

Is there a winner or a loser in all of this?

Let’s just say both sides have been at fault at times during this ordeal. Nagelsmann is morphing into the “Teflon Don of Säbener Straße” and Neuer seems to have failed in his attempt to make a power play through the media.

Unlike the team itself these days, neither side of this brouhaha is winning.

Through all of this (and much more so far during this campaign), the 2022/23 edition of FC Hollywood has been wild — and all fans can do is sit and wonder what things might be like if Neuer never strapped on those stupid skis.

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