The Bayern Munich Crisis – When God Was At Fault


“I’m god, I’m always right about everything”, this speech was told by Louis van Gaal in the dressing room in front of his players. The reality of course is a bit different; Bayern Munich must grapple with one of its biggest crisis in its club history.

At the beginning of the new season the Bayern officials praised their new coach Louis van Gaal as the most distinguished man in European football. Van Gaal’s experience and his coaching style should eradicate the “Klinsmann-experiment”. Three months later van Gaals balance is inferior to Jürgen Klinsmanns performance.

Six points behind the top team in the Bundesliga and after the embarrassing lost game against Girondins Bordeaux, the quarterfinals of the Champions League are very doubtful.

A few weeks ago the club brooke a record, a very sad record, the club didn’t stay at the top position at the standings since 500 days. The current situation isn’t satisfying for the club officials, who unveiled the best Bayern Munich team squad ever. But what are the reasons for the failure of this top team, who spent 75 million Euro for new players this season.

The following points reflect my opinion, the opinion of the German press and German critics:

1. Coach Louis van Gaal

His way of treating his players is doubtful. He used to coach in very autocratic and conservative style and he only accepts his own opinion. Sure as a coach you must have a steady arm on the tiller but you must be prepared for new or improvised solutions of some upcoming problems. A coach has to think of the mentality of his players and their current mental shape.

Van Gaal showed lack of competence on these fields in the past months and I think it’s a dangerous situation for a team, when a coach doesn’t think of the needs of his players and devotes oneself only to his way. Last week van Gaal presented his autobiography to public. In this biography he writes: “You can release me, and then? There’s no other coach with such a curriculum vitae than me!”

2. Player transfers

Bayern bought new players for nearly 75 million euro, that’s a record – but are all of these transfers successful and useful – of course not. Bayern Munich paid 30 million Euros for striker Mario Gomez, but till now he plays not successful and has to grapple with sitting on the reserve bank. Of course such a high transfer fee is a heavy load for a young player like Gomez, but he must accept the challenge.

In my opinion, Bayern Munich should have saved the money for a midfielder or a defender, instead of spending the money for Gomez. The strikers Miroslav Klose, Luca Toni, Ivica Olic and youngster Thomas Müller are good enough for the upcoming challenges in the Bundesliga and Champions League.

Another failed transfer is the Timoschuk-deal. I can’t see any sense in buying another defensive midfielder, when you have Marc van Bommel and Andreas Ottl in your current squad. Timoschuk, who is talking about going back to Zenit St. Petersburg on March at the moment, was too expensive. Edson Braafheid and Daniel Pranjic aren’t in the condition to fill the right back position – Defender Breno (12 million Euros), no comment about his performance.

Bayern Munich failed to look after a solid right back in the preseason. This position is deserted since several seasons and the management didn’t react appropriately to solve this problem. Instead of this van Gaal sold Lucio to Inter, a player, who gave all his passion for the club.

3. Where’s the team-leader??

In the past years in every great Bayern Munich team, one player attires the team-leader role. Oliver Kahn, Stefan Effenberg, Lothar Matthäus or Karl-Heinz Rummenigge put their stamps on the team hierarchy and managed the difficult situations. They expedited their team to success, and they had successful times in the Bavarian city.

I guess at the moment no one in the squad is able to play such a dominant role, even Arien Robben or Frank Ribery.

But if you want to win a trophy you need such a type of player!

13 thoughts on “The Bayern Munich Crisis – When God Was At Fault”

  1. I think this post has fallen into the same trap that many German commentators have. This is not a crisis. It’s simply not useful to look at numbers on a page to compare Louis van Gaal and Jürgen Klinsmann. What is more damning, I ask you, a 2-5 loss at home to Bremen during Oktoberfest, or a hard fought 1 goal defeat away at Hamburg? But additionally, take away the two best players from any team, and see what happens.

    The loss to Bordeaux is unfortunate, but not embarrassing. Perhaps if it had been 4-1 or 5-1 it may have been. There is the ability to make amends for this in a couple weeks time. It’s been quite some time since Bayern lost a home match in the Champions League.

    Point 1: You could replace each instance of “Louis van Gaal” with “Felix Magath” and then the statments would become very humorous. Results, good or bad, don’t validate or invalidate a particular coaching style. This is always a typical criticism. When Bayern played poorly under Hitzfeld, people clamored for him to be more ruthless, and when they played poorly under Magath people called for him to be more lenient and understanding. What Louis van Gaal has that Klinsmann didn’t is a) experience and b) an assistant who actually knows something about the Bundesliga. But he’s not going to change. No one does.

    Point 2: However little Gomez is currently contributing, he is a proven commodity. Müller has been a pleasant surprise, but without him you’d be going to the well with two over-30 strikers and Klose is usually sure to miss a quarter of any season injured. I think the only thing one can argue with Gomez is the price. But that’s no an object for Bayern.

    Of course, what is always forgotten with the right back situation, is that this was all caused by an unforeseeable event-Willy Sagnol’s injury and subsequent retirement. Braafheid and Pranjic on the left; well, it hasn’t been lovely, but it is unquestionably better than Oddo and Lell on the right. Let’s loan Breno (who just turned 20) out for a while and then see if we were wrong to get into a bidding war with the big clubs for him.

    Point 3 is the only one where I’ll say it has some merit. The guy who really should have grown into this role is of course, Schweini. But for anyone watching both Bayern and the national team, he is quite a riddle.

    I appreciate that you’re writing in a second language, and you’ve done better than I could do in German, but there are some spelling and usage problems in the early part of this article. I just want to point that out because I don’t want it to take away from what is an otherwise very debate-provoking piece!

  2. Excellent comment Luke.

    I totally agree with you. There’s no crisis at the club at the moment…but when you’re missing not 1 but 2 of your most creative players, you can expect to see a dip in form.

    Breno should definitely be loaned out to another Bundesliga team, Timoschok should be given more playing time (i still dont understand why he hasn’t excelled with Bayern so far, he was amazing with Zenit).

    Any predictions for today’s game?

  3. As much as a like to see Bayern underperform in the Bundesliga I can´t see a crisis either. Quoting some statements out of the content is not really any kind of useful argument, the example of putting the words into Felix Magaths mouth is amazingly fitting in that regard =)

    However what is very strange indeed is that the team is lagging any inspiration if neither Ribery or Robben are in the squad. Without them there is just nothing about Bayern these days that makes the difference between a solid side and a very good team. That is peculiar, especially because it has been going on for almost years now. It looks like something is wrong with the entire system at the club, that can not be blamed on and solved with the coach or any other single person/group.

    For years now the transfers have been far from balanced and although you could prbl argue about most of them either way, the picture as a whole just doesn´t seem right. But its more then that still…

    Maybe its not so much that BM has changed but that the rest of the footballing environment has changed and a lot of clubs have become much more like BM with regards to prof management and stability, making it impossible to retain so overly dominant position they club used to have.

  4. Everyone is so quick to indicate a crisis. It is FC Hollywood though. If our striker’s would’ve been finishing all their golden chances this season we would be sitting at top of the table and people would be hailing LvG for being so dramatically better than Klinsi.

    The team is fine. There have been lots of injuries and especially to the main stars. The schedule is really weak coming up and has a ton of home games. Expect another run like last season of 5+ wins during this stretch and then everyone will be at the opposite end of the spectrum on Bayern.

    I’m more concerned with qualifying in the CL than Bundesliga. CL is going to be difficult.

  5. There is no crisis at Bayern…yet. The team underperforms without its most creative players, and that can also be said to other teams. Look at Juventus without Del Piero, Liverpool without Gerrard, Real Madrid without Cristiano Ronaldo. Van Gaal’s strategy of subbing in Robben and Ribery if they are partially injured works…because Bayern score in the 2nd half. It is the first half where they struggle a lot because opponents resort to defensive tactics and the formation without ROBBERY is not ideal. Putting Tymoshchuk as an RM is suicidal.

  6. Thanks for the critics! I do my best writing in English, I hope it’s not too bad.

    Last season the team won no title and had to fight till the last match day to reach the Champion’s League, Uli Hoeneß and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge released Jürgen Klinsmann. It was a terrible season with “embarrassing” defeats against Wolfsburg and some bad personnel decisions like Donovan or Oddo. I think the origin of the so called “crisis” started last season.

    If there is no crisis, please explain me, where you can see some progress?? – I think, nearly all executed transfers failed! Pranjic and Braafheid give the team no boost and I think they played even worse like Lell or Oddo last season. The “Kicker”, Germany’s biggest football magazine, marked Braafheid after nine games 4, 5 (6 is the worst mark) and Pranjic was marked 4, 43. Failed transfer Tymoshchuk was marked 3, 94.

    Signing Arien Robben was a stroke of genius, I think without him it would be more difficult being competitive to the top teams in the Bundesliga. The Two club-trained players Holger Badstuber and Thomas Müller are positive surprises.

    On the field I can´t see any improvement, too. I watched all Bayern Munich games on Sky and only the matches against Wolfsburg and Dortmund convinced me. Sure the top-players Ribbery, Robben or Toni were missed, but you can demand to play better and more successful. Bayern has several national-team players in its reserve squad like Olic or Altintop. They should be in the condition to win a game against cologne or dominate Freiburg.

    Its stated that it’s not simply useful to look at numbers on a page – but numbers and points are the only thing that counts. Yesterday fomer Bayern goalkeeper Oliver Kahn said, that he can’t see any team hierarchy. Furthermore he criticized van Gaal’s way of changing the formation. I think he’s right!!

    I think the “crisis” affected the personnel decisions of the past and current season and the way the team performs on the field. I’m not a “Bayern-hater”! I wish that the team will have success in the CL and the Bundesliga, but till now I cannot see a huge progress since van Gaal has assumed responsibility. Hopefully van Gaal will find the best formation for the team – he’s a good coach!!

    But not tonight against Eintracht Frankfurt in the “DFB-Pokal”! I’m a kneen Eintracht fan 😉

  7. Right, three more games since announcing the Bayern crisis have passed: A very convincing win against Frankfurt (sorry Florian!) in the cup, a lackluster draw against Stuttgart and the horrible loss against Bordeaux.
    Even though their CL run is all but over, I still don’t think you can talk of a “crisis”. (especially not “one of the biggest in cliub history”, come on!) The main focus for every team always has to be the domestic league, where the season is still very young. I’m pretty sure Bayern will recover and have a very good shot at winning it. After all, the competition all have problems of their own; no one stepped up to dominate like Bayern used to do.
    BTW, the quote you attribute to LvG is fake, as is the alleged talk of Tymoshuk to return to Russia. And don’t get me started on Kicker grades, I agree that Braafheid and Pranjic suck, but no need to use intransparent average grades to document that. As you seem to see Ottl as a sufficiently good player that you don’t need Tymoshuk, his average grade is 4.5. As is Klose’s.
    As for the transfers, I think it’s a mixed bag. You have to keep in mind that some of them are not LvG’s players (he explicitly singled out Gomez and Tymoshuk), so he still has some trouble finding the right spots for them; as Miron said. For the right back, I think the plan was to have Pranjic/Braafheid at left back and switch Lahm to the right, which is his original side after all.
    We’ll see what happens if they get Robbery back, coach and team get used to each other and they don’t have the additional CL pressure. Imagine the get the domestic double (just like Magath did), that would be a very successful campaign.

  8. Thanks for a great article which definitely shows the competence and clear vision of a sharp and intelligent soccer analyst. Time has shown how right you were in particular about the qualities of Van Gaal.

  9. “There is nothing permanent except change” – Heraclitus of Ephesus (Greek philosopher)

    Hopefully Bayern will win these three cups, you´re talking about…..

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