Bayern Munich was faced with a club changing decision last spring: Go “all in” on then-Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland or make a full court press to try and salvage the damaged relationship the club had with Robert Lewandowski.
Bayern Munich did neither...and it cost the club the entire 2022/23 season.
Knowing it was up against a financial juggernaut in Manchester City, Bayern Munich opted for the safe way forward in passing on Haaland. Why upset the team’s budget? Why risk alienating other players? At the time, these were the types of arguments made against going “all in” for the Norwegian star.
In retrospect, it was a massive mistake...Haaland was worth the risk of upsetting the applecart and by all accounts, was willing to play for Bayern Munich if the money was right.
“We tried everything for Haaland and went to our financial limits. In the end we had to decide: do we want to break our wage structure? We weren’t ready for that. That’s not Bayern-like,” Bayern Munich CEO Oliver Kahn told Sport Bild (as captured by @iMiaSanMia).
“Not Bayern-like”...what we now know is also “not Bayern-like” is entering the season without a true No. 9, going “all in” on a coach, only to fire him a season-and-a-half into what was supposed to be the dawn of a new era during the hunt for a treble, and making panic signings that act as a lipstick on a pig to try and save face for gross squad planning mismanagement.
That all, however, is a digression for another time. Back to the striker fallout from last summer...
Naturally, during the flirtation with Haaland, superstar-striker-of-the-moment, Robert Lewandowski was a bit “put off” by the courtship. No matter how much Bayern Munich tried to downplay their pursuit of Haaland with a series of planned public comments that many people actually bought into, it was clear that the Bavarians were serious about the Norwegian. That left Lewandowski feeling a little slighted...the half measure had after-effects.
Do you remember a year ago when Bayern and German pundits said: - Jan is lying! We are not trying to get Haaland https://t.co/YiFYKuws95— Jan Aage Fjørtoft ️ (@JanAageFjortoft) May 10, 2023
Do you know realise why I said at the time why Lewandowski was so angry. And ending up leaving Bayern https://t.co/YiFYKuws95— Jan Aage Fjørtoft ️ (@JanAageFjortoft) May 10, 2023
(BFW Editor’s Note: Jan Aage Fjortoft means “now” not “know”)
The problem was that Lewandowski was not just feeling scorned by the Haaland pursuit, but also by coach Julian Nagelsmann, whose directives did not include enough action (or service from his teammates) for the hitman.
Lewandowski was feeling underappreciated, maybe a little hurt, and finally decided to scratch that itch that he had to play in Spain...now for FC Barcelona. When all was said and done, there was nothing Bayern Munich could do to fight the fact that it struck out on Haaland and could not retain Lewandowski...other than try and fool its fan base into thinking that Liverpool FC’s Sadio Mané was the solution.
(Spoiler alert: Mané was, in fact, was not the solution)
In any event, Bayern Munich must now deal with the fallout from last summer by likely overpaying for a striker this summer. Being “Bayern-like” is not always so bad, but sometimes you need to take a big swing. In this case, Bayern Munich walked out of the box with its bat still resting on it shoulder. There were no swings taken.
In modern football, you are either “all in”...or you get left behind. Bayern Munich has learned that lesson the hard way.