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The one where Thomas Tuchel finds out Bayern Munich won’t buy him a No. 6

Inside the latest transfer meeting at Säbener Straße...

FC Rottach-Egern - FC Bayern Munich Photo by David Inderlied/picture alliance via Getty Images

Bayern Munich bosses have reportedly informed manager Thomas Tuchel during last week’s transfer team meeting that they will not grant his request for a defensive midfielder signing this summer (as reported by Sport Bild, captured via @iMiaSanMia).

The following is a dramatization and parody — no characterization of any parties intended or implied.

You can do this, Thomas.

It’s 11:00 AM. FC Bayern training is in full swing and manager Thomas Tuchel holds court. The Slim Reaper strides the field, but his mind is elsewhere. There is a transfer meeting with the bosses in the afternoon, and this time — this time — he will give it to them straight.


Tuchel looks up. Thomas Müller has scored. He’s pumping his fists over the prostrate figure of Sven Ulreich, who looks annoyed and maybe in some pain. Oh no. Is that new guy here yet?

Müller runs over and hugs Joshua Kimmich, who had evidently provided the assist.

Kimmich. Tuchel groans as he watches the team captain jog away, the #6 jersey on his back. You are no six. You are an eight.

The breeze brushes lightly against Tuchel’s face. In his younger days, wisps of golden-brown locks would have danced across his eyes. Younger days when I had a six, Tuchel reminisces bitterly. Now 49, he can only let his face face the elements, as exposed as Bayern’s backline.

Where is even my cap, he wonders.

Whistles blow. The morning session is over. Time for lunch.

Benjamin Pavard and Thomas Müller at Bayern Munich practice.
Photo by CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP via Getty Images

Tuchel stares sullenly at his plate. Today the menu is bratwurst, with a side of — no, he can’t bring himself to say it.

The sausage reminds him of Uli Hoeneß. Tuchel isn’t hungry.

“Hey coach!” Kimmich bounds over. They make small talk and Josh says he has to hit the weights. Thomas (Müller) has challenged him to a bench press competition, and Josh is sure he’ll win. “I’ve been practicing,” Kimmich assures with a wink, and saunters away.

You could never resist the press, Tuchel nearly mutters after him.

Sounds of conversation fill the cafeteria as more players and coaches get up from their seats. Tuchel pushes the sausage around the plate, imagining it’s the Bayern bosses. He hasn’t even touched his —

Rice. Tuchel slams his fist down in anger. A staff member looks up, alarmed, but Tuchel reassures him with a wave.

It’s not his fault this was the only place around here Tuchel could order up such a thing. Well. Maybe Declan is happier at Arsenal anyway...

It’s 4:00 PM.

Tuchel takes a deep breath, steels himself, and pulls on the brass door handles. He’s in the executive suite at Säbener Straße, and it's time to tell the bosses what's what.

FC Bayern Muenchen v Borussia Moenchengladbach - Pre-Season Match Bundesliga
Herbert Hainer and Uli Hoeneß take on a preseason match from the stands.
Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

The doors are heavier than they look, but eventually they swing open to reveal the meeting room. Behind a long table are the three big bosses at FC Bayern. Uli Hoeneß is leaning back in a reclining chair, puffing on a cigar. He’s flanked by Herbert Hainer, who coughs as the smoke plumes waft by, and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who glances up with disinterest and adjusts his spectacles.

“Thomas. Glad you could make it.”

Tuchel strides into the room with all the confidence he can muster. Already, he falters.

“Well — this was our scheduled —”

“Sit down.”

Hainer gestures calmly. Tuchel looks. It’s a small chair, the plastic folding kind, right next to the door. He takes his seat. It squeals against the floor. Hainer looks disgusted.

Tuchel decides to speak up first.

“Sirs, as per my last e-mail, I have been talking with Christoph, and he agrees —”

“You let us worry about Christoph,” Uli cuts in.

Ouch. Tuchel winces. He knew he shouldn’t have played the new sporting director card.

“Listen. Thomas. We like you a lot. You did great work out there last week,” Rummenigge begins. The good cop routine.


“But we have decided not to grant you a six,” Uli says, unsmiling.

Tuchel bows his head and grits his teeth.

“You know we need this,” he says without looking up, hands clenched. “It is not enough, this Nagelsmann’s boy.” (Whatever, he’ll apologize in his head to Laimer later). “We have now Harry Kane, we must strike. If you want the Champions League...”

“And yet you will learn,” Uli says firmly. “At FC Bayern is a rule. It has never been written, you will not make us write it otherwise. Only the bosses and the supervisory board decide on how to build the squad. This...this is the limitation of your power.”

Kaltern Weinbeisser Kaltern v FC Bayern München - Friendly Match
New signing Harry Kane signing autographs for fans after his arrival from Tottenham Hotspur.
Photo by S. Mellar/FC Bayern via Getty Images

“But we are meant to be a transfers team — look!” Tuchel pulls out his phone and shows it to them. He reads the words he’s already memorized. “Calendar appointment — 4:00 PM. Transfer team meeting. Members: Tuchel, Thomas. Hoeneß, Uli. Hainer, — ”

“Your screen is locked,” Uli replies, and does not wait for Tuchel to check. “That is what the media thinks. And we are happy to feed them the story. But remember who pulls the strings.”

“You can’t do this!” Tuchel protests. “I — I’ll talk to the media again! I’ll give interviews! I’ll —”

And this time Uli stands up and glowers. Suddenly, Tuchel does not feel 6-foot-4. He feels as small as an ant.

“You will very well talk to the media!” Uli roars, chest heaving. “And you will tell them that you are happy with the squad that you have! That you will find solutions! Basta, enough!”

“But Joshua.” Tuchel is pleading now. He pulls his last, best card. “Please — I will have to play a back three.”

Mistake. Uli snorts. He’s laughing now, big, hearty guffaws. Hainer swivels around in his chair, he can’t look. Rummenigge rubs his temple and groans. Tuchel braces.

“You will do no such thing,” Uli says finally. “Look what happened to the last guy.”

Rummenigge tugs Tuchel by the arm and ushers him to the door. Hainer appears on his other shoulder, close. Too close.

“Thomas, it will be great,” he whispers reassuringly into his ear. “I believe in you — we believe in you — but this you must accept.”

Tuchel grasps for a response. Something. Anything. He feels the door begin to close on him.

“Mr. Tuchel,” Uli says relaxedly, and then his eyes narrow. “Coach. Coach, and don’t speak.”

SV Werder Bremen v FC Bayern München - Bundesliga
Bayern’s Joshua Kimmich in action against Werder Bremen.
Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images

It’s 1:00 AM.

Tuchel is tossing and turning in his bed. Dreams of Aurélien Tchouaméni making bone-crunching tackles for Die Roten dance in his head. The still-current Real Madrid star pirouettes, then...

The scene shifts. It’s a nightmare. Josip Stanišić is starting for Leverkusen in defensive midfield in the Champions League Final against Bayern. He scores the winning goal. The headlines are all about Xabi Alonso.

Tuchel jolts up. Leverkusen aren’t even in the Champions League. Relief.

He slides back under the covers. His mind scrambles to assemble a formation and an XI for the weekend, but after this latest blow, he’s tired.

Where had he gone wrong? Tuchel racks his brain.

“Don’t press the issue,” Hansi Flick had cautioned him when Tuchel asked for advice.

What? Of course he’d asked! And why didn’t Hansi get back to him sooner. They could have had a conversation.

“Just ask for all your former players, they will love that,” Julian Nagelsmann had replied (instantly). That was probably a joke, Tuchel realizes suddenly. Too late. Oh well. Maybe he shouldn’t have requested all those Chelsea guys.

Could have had the Champions League in the bag if I just had a six, Tuchel thinks in a flash of anger. But he shouldn’t give up now. He can’t.

Hey, maybe Kimmich can do it.

HEY. Maybe Kimmich can do it.

Sleep overtakes him. Tuchel gives in to that last comforting thought.

It’s 3:00 AM. Only darkness now.

But tomorrow is a new day.

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