As in any walk of life, in the context of football promotions from within are often hard to come by (disclaimer – Andrea Pirlo is exempt from this rule on the grounds of being the coolest man in the world).
When Hansi Flick was appointed assistant coach of Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich in July 2019, few could have envisaged that little over a year later he’d have been promoted to manager on an interim basis, impressed so much that he was given the role permanently along with a three-year deal and overseen an 8-2 demolition of Spanish Goliaths Barcelona in the Champions League.
The German tactician’s stock has enjoyed a meteoric rise since being handed the reigns at the Allianz Arena. And after a spurt of recent managerial changes which saw five different bosses occupy the Bayern hotseat in the space of three and a half years, it seems the Bavarians have finally found their man.
Niko Kovač’s departure from the club in November 2019 came as no surprise to anyone with half an eye on Bayern’s campaign. Despite three wins from three in the Champions League, Die Roten sat fourth in the Bundesliga – four points off top spot – having just endured a humiliating 5-1 defeat at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt.
Bayern’s season was far from unsalvageable, however, issues within the club would undoubtedly prove to be Flick’s biggest challenge, with Kovač’s exit rumoured to be driven by squad disharmony.
While James Rodriguez’s disgruntled comments to the media regarding Kovač’s pragmatic approach will have done little to cause Bayern fans any sleepless nights – speculation surrounding the future of Thomas Muller will have had them desperately counting sheep.
Following the Croatian boss’ insistence that loanee Philippe Coutinho was to be his number one playmaker and club legend Muller would be used as backup, the Germany international was forced to question his future in Munich. Cue cries of ‘Kovač out’ from the Bayern faithful.
Less than a year on and Muller is as influential in Die Roten’s system as he ever has been, with his unstoppable linkup play with Robert Lewandowski a key feature of the club’s play.
The 30-year old German’s 21 assists in the Bundesliga last season broke the record in the top flight – despite being limited to cameos early on in the season – with speculation over his future well and truly put to bed.
Not only has Flick’s appointment seen an upturn in Muller’s form, the rumours of squad disharmony have been dispelled.
Bayern’s record-breaking win against Barcelona in the Champions League couldn’t have looked less like the display of a side who were papering over cracks, with a willingness and a desire to work for each other still evident despite a commanding 5-2 lead with just 20 minutes to play.
The incessant chasing and determination on show from the Bavarians should come as no surprise when you consider that Flick was the German national team’s assistant between 2006-2014 – a period in which he was a part of Die Mannschaft’s 7-1 drubbing of Brazil at the 2014 World Cup.
Not only has Flick brought harmony to the Bayern dressing room, his work on the training pitch is also beginning to flourish.
The fine form of Alphonso Davies has not gone unnoticed, with many considering the youngster to be one of if not the best left-back in the world at the tender age of just 19. Continue reading