After the messed-up World Cup, Thomas Müller still thought that “just keep going” was somehow possible with Bayern. But at the moment it looks more like the “hole” feared by Joshua Kimmich is there. Either way, FC Bayern is deep in a game and result crisis.
“Bayern’s biggest enemy is that there is too much routine, that they manage their success, don’t provide clarity in good time, which puts them in danger. So their biggest enemy is themselves.” When Günter Netzer wrote these lines 25 years ago at the end of January, FC Bayern Munich were just two points behind leaders 1. FC Kaiserslautern – but the record champions were “calm and relaxed”. Manager Uli Hoeneß even went on a short ski holiday for a few days because the whole club firmly assumed that in the end it would be enough to win the title again.
But things turned out differently. The climber from Kaiserslautern surprisingly became champion. Bayern were left behind. The situation today is completely different in many respects – but one thing is exactly the same as it was then: Bayern’s biggest enemy is still themselves!
Because although Thomas Müller had said after the botched World Cup of the German team in Qatar that “always going on” was “in” at Bayern, after three games after the winter break the situation is completely different the then Bayern coach Hansi Flick said two years ago – “He’s a player who always has to play in this team” – personally didn’t have a happy start after the World Cup. Only against Frankfurt did the 2014 world champion return to the starting eleven. But even with Müller, it was only enough for the third draw in a row – and, what is far worse, only a team performance that was extremely below average.
How quickly will FC Bayern get out of the hole?
FC Bayern is currently deep in a game and result crisis. The team is obviously lacking in terms of motivation right now across the board. And that, although Joshua Kimmich announced in the training camp that he was glad that he had not, as feared, “fallen into a hole” after the “most difficult day” of his career (the premature elimination from the World Cup against Costa Rica).
But after these brilliant ten years in a row, who can really blame the FC Bayern Munich team for the fact that their motivation for everyday league and cup work seems to be rather low? Almost all key players in the team have already won all national and international titles on a club basis. And although the Bundesliga competition at the top has used the Bayern crisis very ambitiously in recent weeks, the record champions are still in first place in the table – with a great chance of being able to extend the lead again with the right results in the near future. To paraphrase Günter Netzer: Bayern are currently driving in routine mode and managing their success with little ambition. And that looks exactly the same as in Bayern’s first three games in 2023 on the pitch. Not pretty and not very successful.
The question will now be how quickly FC Bayern Munich can get out of this deep hole of the game and result crisis and to what extent the team can be motivated again for the sporting goals of the club. The answer to this question will also be one of the decisive factors in how long the head coach’s time at Säbener Straße will last. Because, as Justin Kraft correctly wrote in his article yesterday: “It’s up to Nagelsmann to find solutions now.”
It remains exciting either way
It is precisely these difficult phases that the great coaches are ultimately measured against. If Julian Nagelsmann does not succeed in putting out all sources of fire as quickly as possible, in regaining the team’s trust and sharpening the focus on the club’s goals, this season will go down in the history of FC Bayern Munich as a turning point. However, this could possibly be one of the ways in which the record champions emerge from this season with a stronger future.
At the moment, the Munich team are in “danger”, to use the phrase Günter Netzer. But as the Bayern expert Justin Kraft writes quite rightly: “It often happens very quickly at FC Hollywood.” In just one week, the world at Bayern can look very different again. Because in terms of sport, the team has the necessary class in any case. But as it was 25 years ago, the same still applies: FC Bayern’s biggest enemy is the Bavarians themselves! It remains exciting either way. And that’s a really nice thing for the rest of the league.