bayern munich is in a crisis. in the most important week of the season so far, the most successful team in germany lost their bundesliga home match against virtual champions borussia dortmund by 1×3. the win was deserved for dortmund, but bayern wasn’t really worse, they were unlucky in front and had some mistakes in the back. this season, it has been a normal occasion that almost every defensive mistake results into a goal against bayern, maybe with the exception of the internazionale match in the champions league.
after that disappointment, bayern would entertain schalke 04 at home, for the german cup semifinal; last year, in the same matchup, bayern beat schalke in gelsenkirchen with a dream-goal by arjen robben; but robben wasn’t able to deliver, always playing against to oponnents in the defense, and bayern lost after a goal early in the first half. this time, bayern was the better team, but they just didn’t manage to score a goal, which would probably have seen them through. the pressure was on for the next match, since bayern had fallen to 4th place in the bundesliga, right behind hannover 96, and need at least 3rd place to qualify for the champions league. qualification for next year’s european competition is a must, since the final will be in the allianz arena in munich, and bayern wants to be there. and the team wouldn’t disappoint; one can lose the cup, and even to be beaten by borussia dortmund this season is no real bummer, although it is an image problem, since bayern claims to be germany’s number one. but the matches before those two defeats were almost all very well played, and mostly won – even the deserved 1×0 victory against the holding champions of europe, internazionale milano. so this away match against 3rd placed hannover was a good way out of a mini-crisis, getting 3rd place back with a convincing win.
but what happened was the worse of the three defeats. hannover deserved the victory even more than dortmund a week earlier, and 3rd place is now 5 points away, with 2nd place (guarantees a spot in the group phase) now a whopping 7 points away (bayer leverkusen). uli hoeness, who really doesn’t like his dutch coach louis van gaal, had said in an interview in the beginning of the year that if 2nd place came into danger, things might get complicated for the coach; he even mentioned jürgen klinsmann’s sacking two years ago, as a warning example.
after the defeat in hannover, president hoeness left with only one comment: “now is no time to talk, it’s time to act”. it can’t get much clearer than that. but since karlheinz rummenigge, bayern’s boss, is responsible for the decisions, reason beat emotion.
yes, bayern has lost three key matches, and in a row – first time this happened in 11 years. and it does seem that louis van gaal is to stubborn to change his tactics, which have not only been figured out by the opponents, but also finally reacted to, tactically. it seems that you only need to double robben and ribéry on both sides, have a midfielder follow müller, and another one attacking the defensive midfielder who has the ball, either schweinsteiger or luiz gustavo (prajnic); since those are loosing balls due to the pressure, the opponents have been able o create counter attacks, and most of them have been deadly; i wouldn’t even blame the defenders, it just is a very offensive tactic that van gaal follows, in his persuit of attractive football. schweinsteiger, lahm and badstuber have been out of form lately, and brazilian defender breno spoiled his increasing chances with his red card in hannover.
bayern munich decided not to sack louis van gaal, but he will leave the club at the end of the season. van gaal is a brilliant coach, maybe the best football teacher bayern has ever had. but his personality is a problem; his arrogance has made things difficult with quite a few players who left the club because of him (lucio, van bommel, demichelis) and with some that still are in the team (butt, van buyten, ribéry and even robben). van gaal has a tendency to criticise players who he feels are being too celebrated by the media (as done recently with young goalie kraft or earlier with thomas müller); he also thinks he’s always right, which makes life difficult with his bosses christian nerlinger (team manager), kalle rummenigge (club boss) and uli hoeness (club president), all ex-internationals and highly decorated football specialists. this without mentioning honorary president franz beckenbauer! his inability to have that extra sensibility for situations and feelings have cut his stay at bayern shorter than expected, and this is sad.
but it is also an opportunity. van gaal can’t win the bundesliga or the german cup on his way out, but he is proud enough to do everything he cans to leave on top – with a champions league title! he reached the final last year (besides winning both titles he’s lost this year), but lost the final to inter; next tuesday, bayern has a huge chance to eliminate inter and continue to dream of the title. and after these turbulent days, either everyone (players and coach) reacts in a negative way (the coach has been demoralized, the players don’t feel they need to follow him) or in a positive way – now or never! bayern’s chances of winning the champions league, in my optimistic opinion, have just increased with these three defeats and the whole debate about sacking van gaal; and the players will surely want to show character, since other defeats will only lead to the conclusion that the team is weak in personality.
the second dream concerns who might join bayern. ideally, jupp heynckes (or even ottmar hitzfeld) would join bayern munich for a third stint. jupp is a close friend of uli hoeness and understands how the bayern family works. he’s pretty advanced in age and would only be able to stay for one season; currently, he’s been successful with bayer leverkusen, so he still has the goods. and after 2012, jürgen klopp or even jogi löw could take over as head coach, to start a new era at bayern. personally i’d hope for klopp, who is currenlty leading dortmund to a fantastic bundesliga title. after the glory, things might be complicated for him next season, and bayern would then grab him for 2012.
the other candidates being discussed are matthias sammer (i don’t want him), guus hiddink (great, but another dutch, really?), martin jol (also dutch, but i like his style and persona) or even frank rijkaard (yes, yet another dutchman). from the bundesliga, thomas tuchel would be kind of a bet, but i would sign on. no one has mentioned him yet.
but here’s the dream: champions league glory with van gaal, then a year of good old jupp, and finally jürgen klopp; but jogi löw would do, too. 😉