Thomas Muller has got to be sweating right now. Speaking to the dpa (via SZ), Bayern Munich President Herbert Hainer basically confirmed that the Raumdeuter would be made to leave the club as soon as possible.
Okay, he didn’t actually say that.
When asked whether Thomas Muller would play for Bayern Munich next season, Hainer was emphatic in his reply. “You can be certain of that,” said the club president.
The Bayern Munich fanbase was thrown into an uproar last week, when a story published by Bild indicated that Muller was looking to leave the club this summer. While the 33-year-old has a contract until 2024, the report said he was dissatisfied by his lack of playing time and a “lack of appreciation” by the club itself. The fanbase didn’t take this news well.
Feeling the intense backlash from the media, the club bosses immediately convened a meeting with the player to sort out some differences. The following matchday, Thomas Muller started and scored in a 6-0 win over Schalke, putting a ton of concerns to bed. However, you can tell that the executives are still trying to drive the point home, as Hainer can’t stop repeating himself.
After the Schalke game, the club president said that Muller was “indispensable”. Asked to explain his statement, Hainer said the following: “What I meant by that is, Thomas Müller is not just a footballer on the pitch, he is Munich through and through. He spent his entire professional career at FC Bayern. He embodies this Bavarian mentality — the Mia san mia.”
Now this would be a reassuring statement, if not for Hainer’s track record. Let’s not forget that he said this only a week before Nagelsmann was ignominiously fired by the club.
Hainer: "We documented that with a five-year contract, because we want to build something with him. You can see a clear progress in these one and a half years. Julian is doing very well. The coaching discussion in between came from outside, we didn't start it."— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) March 19, 2023
The simple fact is, after the way the Nagelsmann sacking was handled, the Bayern Munich top brass has a serious credibility problem. It’s the reason why they moved so quickly to crush the Muller rumors before they gained any traction. They don’t want any more negative rumors simmering within the fanbase. With the Champions League and DFB-Pokal titles already out of reach and the Bundesliga title race the closest it’s been in years, the bosses want everyone to focus on the games and not them.
Unfortunately, that will be hard to do.
As for Thomas Muller, what about his future? As we discussed in our podcast, it’s clear that he’s still a valuable member of the team. The problem is whether that’s recognized internally or not. The original Bild report brought up the fact that Muller is tired of “having to prove himself” again to his ninth consecutive coach. Thomas Tuchel showed against Manchester City that he’s perfectly willing to sideline Muller in the biggest games, results be damned.
Thomas Muller may well stick around next summer, but Tuchel could easily reduce his role to that of a fringe player. As seen in the case of Niko Kovac and Carlo Ancelotti, doing that always results in a drastic dip in performances. If it’s allowed to happen again, who takes responsibility? Should Bayern lurch from crisis to crisis every six months, all because a coach can’t figure out how to use a club legend?
Maybe the board should focus on that, instead of spouting platitudes to the media.