The home embarrassment against Gladbach reveals acute weaknesses in the German championship. What part coach Kovac has in the misery, what the team lacks and what role the club bosses play – the overview.
The joke was obvious when the news spread on Saturday evening that Jupp Heynckes had recently changed his mobile phone number. Why? Of course, so that Uli Hoeneß can’t reach him anymore. No, Heynckes will definitely not return to Munich, and Hoeneß would also have his old friend’s landline number on his farm on the Lower Rhine if necessary. And apart from that, what is Ralph Hasenhüttl actually doing?
After four games without a win, the realistic question is: How much credit does Niko Kovac still have, how often can he lose? What part does he play in the fact that the appearances become more and more disastrous and the team seems more lifeless from game to game? And what do the club bosses Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeneß have to be held to for?
On closer inspection, the master crisis has three causes: The coach. The bosses. The players.
Ralph Hasenhüttl Honours and achievements
- VfR Aalen
- 3. Liga promotion : 2011-12
- FC Ingolstadt 04
- 2. Liga : 2014-15
I know the mechanisms in football, in the Bundesliga and in Bavaria
After the match Kovac was already asked at the press conference whether he feared for his job: “I can’t answer that,” he replied. “I know the mechanisms in football, the Bundesliga and Bavaria. I know that I’m with FC Bayern and that the time here is different than perhaps elsewhere. We did seven good games and four not. We have shown that we can do it.”
But what Kovac hasn’t shown so far: That he can also lead the Bavarians out of a bad phase. When things went well, it was easy. A self-runner at the beginning of the season. Smiling, the coach was able to modulate the grumbling of Arjen Robben or Franck Ribéry in substitutions or substitute bench nominations. The success proved him right. But now? Before and after the debacle against Gladbach, Kovac again resisted the accusation that he was helpless. Right. Instead of helplessness, it seemed more like a lack of plan, especially on Saturday.
After the early backlog, he also seemed to lack the big idea how to turn the game around. Kovac stood rather watching in front of the coach’s bench, took again and again a sip of water from the red drinking bottle in front of him, sometimes he consulted with the co-trainers, brother Robert and Peter Hermann. In some breaks he would have had the opportunity to get the players to join him, to cheer them on and to carry them along, instead he usually discussed with the fourth official and the linesman in these moments.
Sometimes teams come out of the half-time cabin like a change of scenery, with new courage. But that wasn’t to be seen neither in the draw against Ajax nor against Gladbach.
The question of whether Kovac still has a lot of bonus with the Bayern bosses was fired up by Uli Hoeneß during the week, when he, asked about the coach’s rotations, said: “That’s up to the coach, he has to decide that. In the end, he has to take the fall for it.” Hoeneß, like Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, has to put his head to the line when it comes to squad planning.
The past four games and above all the match against Gladbach have revealed the weak points mercilessly. On the offensive, for example: the wings of the two old stars are no longer running at all. Neither Arjen Robben nor Franck Ribéry can assert themselves, and the young hopeful Serge Gnabry, brought back by Leihverein Hoffenheim at the beginning of the season, was completely overwhelmed on Saturday. Also the defensive weakens enormously.
On Saturday, Mats Hummels addressed the two bankruptcies at the end of last season, the meaningless but unsightly 1:4 against Stuttgart on the 34th matchday and a week later the painful 1:3 against Frankfurt in the cup final. Alarm signals, which could have also led to thoughts in the summer in the leadership floor whether the squad is enough. Whether it does not become nevertheless too old and an upheaval lines up. But there was no big investment. Leon Goretzka came from Schalke. Gnabry and the borrowed Renato Sanches. That was it.
That’s what players were sold for. Like Arturo Vidal, for example. The Chilean was certainly very moody in his appearance and delivered a lot of average and often not even that. But Vidal was a guy who could shoot a game on his own when it wasn’t running. One who dragged his colleagues on the pitch with him. A whip, a wadlbiter.
And just as one player is missing right now. A player who can be dirty at times, who intimidates his opponent. One like Effenberg or Ballack in the past. But now? Müller? Thiago? Thiago? James? Hummels or Bo? Hummels or Boateng? Who do they have? They have none. Conquer Casino has rounded up players with an impressive array of games, promotions and an easily navigable interface.
For Rummenigge and Hoeneß, the past two weeks should be a reminder to go to the fixed-term deposit account again in the next transfer period in winter and to shop properly. Until then, preferably right after the international match break, Kovac must deliver as quickly as possible and make a quick turnaround. And if not? Kovac knows that time is different in Munich. And then his soon off.