Is there a problem with Bayern Munich’s mentality?
According to a report from kicker journalist Georg Holzner (as captured by @iMiaSanMia), the Bavarian bosses are wondering exactly that:
In addition to the quality of the squad, the club’s bosses are also asking questions about the mentality of the players — does every player understand what it means to wear the Bayern shirt? Do some players prioritize themselves over the team?
The easy answer to this is “Yes” — there is absolutely a problem with the team’s mentality. If you saw the malaise that took over the squad last week when they fell behind RB Leipzig, you would know there is something “off” with this group.
But is it totally the fault of the players...or does the blame lie with the squad planners who assembled the group of players that are not aligned in terms of focus or mentality?
The change in personnel during last summer’s transfer window definitely created some issues. While Robert Lewandowski was a demanding diva, his work ethic and focus were unmatched. Replacing him as the team’s “top star” and biggest earner, Sadio Mané was a big miss. Mané had issues on his way out the door at Liverpool FC before having two locker room run-ins during this campaign.
However you want to rate that, swapping in Mané for Lewandowski was an incredible downgrade on-and-off the field. Bear in mind, Lewandowski got in two physical altercations with teammates during his time at Bayern Munich and was somehow less disruptive in all of those seasons than Mané was this season.
The problem goes far deeper than Mane, though.
Several players have been unhappy with their respective playing time — and have been vocal about it. Again, two newcomers — Ryan Gravenberch and Noussair Mazraoui — took to the press to gripe. With instances like this, the formidable, team-first Bayern Munich mentality ceded to individual desires at an absolutely critical juncture of the season.
Not every newcomer’s mentality was a misfit, however. Matthijs de Ligt has emerged as a dynamic presence on the pitch as a leader. Yann Sommer asserted himself nicely as well. Youngster Mathys Tel has a refreshingly awesome attitude toward just about everything.
In general, Bayern Munich’s core group of players are fighters, they are intense, they are focused, and they have a sensational work ethic. So...what gives? Why has the squad’s trademark intensity been traded for apathy?
The club’s decision makers throwing a grenade into the season in late March absolutely caused confusion and upset the team. While Nagelsmann might have been fired after the season anyway, for at least the rest of this season, the squad was ready to go to battle on the pitch with Nagelsmann. You will never find any team that is 100% onboard with a coach, but they were together for this season...until they weren’t.
Now, there are questions about this team...about the talent...about the fit of players...about how well they mesh together...about whether the coach’s messaging will sink in...about their mentality.
None of those will get answered on the field against FC Köln and there is no guarantee that we know any more even by October. Progress can be made is if the team’s mentality improves — and also if the squad planners find a way to get the right mix of players who gel and become a true Mia San Mia unit.
It did not happen over the course of this season...and if the familiar brand of Bayern Munich intensity and courage is not there in next season’s early fixtures, we could see a complete and utter dismantling of the roster, the coaching staff, and the front office.
Bavarian Podcast Works: Weekend Warm-up Podcast — Season 2, Episode 46 (Bavarian Football Works)
Bayern Munich’s season will come to a disappointing end one way or the others and there is a lot to examine.
Needing a win over FC Köln, along with a loss or a draw from Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich is in danger of going trophyless for 2022/23. Let’s take a look at the hot topics for this edition of the Weekend Warm-up Podcast:
- A look at the Lucas Hernandez situation and why Bayern Munich was right to be cautious with the Frenchman despite the potential for outside interest. Can Paris Saint-Germain get a deal done to bring Hernandez back to France?
- Can a deal for West Ham’s Declan Rice get done?
- The wild ride of Dušan Vlahović rumors from this week.
- Why fan frustration is probably at an all-time high for the last decade — and it does not totally have to do with potentially finishing behind Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga.
Should Bayern get Declan Rice? I finally have gathered my thoughts
According to the Daily Mail’s Sami Mokbel (as captured by @iMiaSanMia), West Ham — not shockingly — is trying to spark up a bidding war for Declan Rice.
West Ham’s hope of sparking a bidding war for Declan Rice is becoming a reality after Manchester United joined the race. Well-placed sources have indicated that West Ham are negotiating from a starting position of more than £100m (€115m).
Manchester United, Arsenal FC, Manchester City, Chelsea FC and Bayern Munich are all linked to Rice and I think I have developed my final thoughts on Rice...
If Bayern Munich is truly going to go out and get a No. 6 during the summer transfer window, they it should go big and get the player defensive midfielder on the market, which is Rice.
I am still perfectly okay with the central midfield tandem of Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka, but if — and this could be a big if — Bayern Munich truly wants to break that duo up and add a new No, 6 into the mix (while pushing Kimmich up to the No. 8), then go big. I can back that if Bayern Munich goes out and gets there man.
However, if Bayern Munich attempts to go shopping on the discount rack and expects fans to think the Dollar Store-type version of Rice will be acceptable, well, then the club is only going to further make its supporters distrustful of the strategic vision for this roster.
Song of the Week: “Unglued” by Stone Temple Pilots
This is the third time I have dipped into the STP catalog after first featuring “Wicked Garden” and “Crackerman”. “Unglued” was one of the featured songs on the album “Purple”, which came out in 1994 (I want to say I got my first listen to the album during the summer after my senior year of high school) and later saw them in concert at the Mann Music Center just as summer was ending in what was a tremendous show.
During that concern STP, who was still building their impact in the mainstream after the success of “Core”, featured many of the songs from “Purple”, including “Unglued”, which was awesome live.
Anyway, enough of my trip down memory lane, enjoy:
Band of Brothers
Given Memorial Day in the United States will be celebrated this weekend, it is my annual plea for anyone who has not watched HBO’s Band of Brothers to make it appointment viewing.
In my mind, Band of Brothers is the single best production that HBO has ever undertaken. The miniseries covers the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division’s Easy Company from boot camp through their jaunt across Europe and is told in a fantastic way. You get every aspect of World War II that you can imagine, with a story has was based on real events (and by all accounts, held mostly to the factual accounts of what happened with some slight deviations).
You will not be disappointed if you take the time to watch this. At just 10 episodes, the time investment is not great, but the quality is off the charts.
RIP Ray Stevenson
Unfortunately — and sadly — actor Ray Stevenson passed away this week. Stevenson was tremendous in the roles that he took on. Most famously — at least to me — Stevenson starred as the character Titus Pullo in the HBO series, Rome.
Rome is one of those tremendous series that HBO put together that was idiotically cut short and rushed to the finish because of the extensive budget that the show had. If you have not seen Rome, you should dive in — mostly for Stevenson’s run as Pullo and the “buddy comedy”-type relationship he had with Kevin McKidd’s character Luscious Vorenus.
The two were electric on-screen and complimented each other so well. Specifically, Stevenson effort in Season 1, Episode 11, which was titled “The Spoils”, was incredible. It featured Pullo in a gladiator pit and, well, chaos ensues.
Stevenson also took an underrated turn at playing Frank Castle in the movie, The Punisher: War Zone. While not as good as the the Jon Bernthal-led series, The Punisher, Stevenson did the character right. Stevenson, perhaps, even channeled more of an unhinged version of The Punisher than even Bernthal, who is more calculated.
For the record, I even enjoyed Thomas Jane’s version of the The Punisher even though it campy, cheesy, was poorly-written, and had a horrifically low budget that caused major parts of the character’s story to be changed (including the location). While not a great movie by any means, it was one of the first attempts to take bring a character like Frank Castle to the mainstream and honestly, I liked Jane in the role. Again, to be clear it was not a good movie, but I did enjoy it.
Of all of the iterations of The Punisher, they did somehow find actors who fit the role (albeit in different ways).
Anyway, RIP to Ray Stevenson, who was an underrated force.
Actor Ray Stevenson, best known for his roles in Rome, Punisher: War Zone, the Thor movies, and the upcoming Ahsoka series, has sadly passed away.— Rotten Tomatoes (@RottenTomatoes) May 22, 2023
Rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/qZLPhl2aNW
Bavarian Podcast Works: Preview Show — Bayern Munich vs FC Köln
What a journey this season has been for Bayern Munich.
Here we are, the final Preview Show of the season — and a match that means something, but could end up meaning nothing at all. Borussia Dortmund’s result against Mainz 05 will determine whether or not the Bavarians have any shot of being the league winner.
That means that Bayern Munich has to play this match against FC Köln out in the event that BVB coughs up its two-point lead in the league and risk toying with playing youngsters or gambling that recently-injured players are fully healthy.
This is what we have on tap for this final 2022/23 edition of the Preview Show:
- A look at where each team sits in the league table.
- Some thoughts on how it all got to this point, why change is imminent, and the overall disappointment that things worked out this way at Bayern Munich.
- An attempt to guess Thomas Tuchel’s lineup and why it could be the last time we see a few players and player combinations working together in a significant way.
- A prediction on the match.
I’ve got nothing...just get a win.
Prediction: FC Köln 1-3 Bayern Munich
Other Bundesliga Match Day 28 predictions include:
- Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-1 FC Augsburg
- VfL Bochum 1-3 Bayer Leverkusen
- Borussia Dortmund 3-2 Mainz 05* (BVB will be crowned new Bundesliga champions)
- Eintracht Frankfurt 1-2 SC Freiburg
- RB Leipzig 4-1 Schalke 04
- VfB Stuttgart 2-2 Hoffenheim
- Union Berlin 2-1 Werder Bremen
- Wolfsburg 1-0 Hertha Berlin
- Overall Bundesliga record: 144-145 (WTF)
- Last week’s Bundesliga record: 2-7
- DFL-Supercup record: 1-0
- DFB-Pokal record: 3-1
- Champions League record: 6-4
- World Cup overall record: 38-25
- WWU overall record: 191-176
- Guest predictions: 7-5