Heading into a new season is a natural time to reflect on many things for a Bayern Munich fan. Is the team ready? What shape are our opponents in? Are there holes in the roster that need filling in a hurry? What do the injuries look like and what challenges does the schedule present. No end to questions for fans to ponder and debate.
Perhaps the most important question a fan of any team, but particularly a Bayern Munich fan can ask themselves is, what kind of fan do they want to be? And just what does it mean to be a fan of a club like Bayern with decades of success as it’s heritage?
Over the last two games against RB Leipzig there have been some worrying trends, and not just on the field.
In the penultimate showdown against the German arm of the Red Bull empire last season fans whistled poor play and many left early believing (correctly) that a comeback was not possible.
In this year’s DFL-Supercup, while Harry Kane’s premiere was greeted with roaring applause, long serving midfielder Joshua Kimmich was jeered by a segment of the fan base when he was taken out of the game.
This is a worrying trend that says more about who we are as fans, as Bayern fans, than it does about the players who represent the club on the pitch.
A fan can approach a club in two ways. The first is that they really want to be part of it. They want to give their all to the club’s success as much as anyone else. These are the ones you see banging drums, painting banners, singing and cheering on the squad from before the first whistle to when they leave the stadium. They try to give morale and energy to the lads who are fighting for the club on the pitch. They think of the club like family and always try to lift them up.
There is another type of fan that sees themselves separate from the club. They feel like the club owes them something and exists to serve their needs. They are used to success and feel entitled to have what they want delivered to them and when they don’t get their expectations met they get angry, petty. They worry more about how other fans might mock them than how some of our squad might feel when their “supporters” jeer them when they are going through a hard time. For this type of fan, their needs and ego come first in all things. They are often simply selfish.
Now there is nothing wrong with having a beer, sitting back, scratching your chin and kvetching about your club’s flaws when a match is done and dusted. Clubs, players, coaches and management are not above critique and fair analysis.
Football clubs have the potential to be like family, and it can be healthy to think of them that way. Fan psychology can be healthy or unhealthy. But if you think of a player like a member of your family it becomes inconceivable to jeer them, whistle at them or mock them while they are in the cauldron. The right choice is to urge them on until the final whistle blows.
The theory is nice, but let’s look at a real world example.
Nottingham Forest F.C. in the EPL plays in a small stadium with a capacity of about 30,000, but it is well known to be louder and more of a home fortress than any of the big London stadiums.
Last year was a fight for the side to avoid relegation. In perhaps the darkest moment of the season Forest played at fellow relegation candidate Leicester City and got thumped 4-0 in the East Midland Derby. A pathetic display. But the three thousand travelling Forest Fans keep singing, stomping, chanting and urging their side on, even after the match was well out of reach. They never wavered in supporting the Garibaldi red for an instant.
Fast forward a few months. Leicester is playing at City Ground. A critical match for both sides.
Forest coach Steve Cooper comes into the dressing room and instead of laying out a game plan he puts on a short video. A video of the Forest fans at Leicester from earlier in the season cheering, singing, stamping and urging them on relentlessly after the score was already 3-0.
Cooper turns to his squad and asks a single question. “This is what they did for you. What are you going to do for them?”
Forest 2 Leicester 0.
Forest are in the EPL, Leicester are back in the Championship.
So ask yourself which fan you want to be. The fan who played a real role in a key win, or that fan who jeered a long serving player on a rough day? The choice is yours.
We will leave the final word on the subject to young Mathys Tel:
“Thank you to my real Bavarian family and all those who support me when the weather is nice and when it rains.”
It’s easy to be a fan when it is nice out. But real supporters show up in the rain.