Today in the Big Summer For series, Ben McAleer looks at Champions League runners-up Bayern Munich who – despite their great run in Europe – have some ground to make up in the Bundesliga.
It’s hard to think that a club of Bayern Munich’s stature could end up empty handed come the end of the season. But after losing out to Borussia Dortmund in both the Bundesliga and the German Cup and Chelsea in the Champions League; that is exactly what happened to the Bavarian based giants. Having not won any major honours since 2010, and with a majority of their Bundesliga rivals beginning to catch up on them, with Dortmund usurping them as Germany’s best team at the moment, the former glory of Die Roten is going to be harder and harder to replicate over the coming years.
With the likes of Franck Ribéry, Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben leading the attacking charge (the trip ended the season with 77 goals in all competitions between them) Manuel Neuer emerging as one of the game’s best goalkeepers and Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos pulling the strings from the midfield, it is hard to believe that a squad possessing so much talent has failed to pick up any form of silverware in two years.
But, that is exactly what has happened to Bayern and for a club of their magnitude to have gone 24 months without a trophy, a big summer could be needed to end that wait. As one of the biggest club’s in Europe, the fans are forever expectant of success and, irregardless of the pressure hyped on to the player’s, this campaign may well be deemed a failure by their standards.
Attacking wise, Bayern are fine
As mentioned, Ribéry, Gomez and Robben scored an impressive 77 goals between them and with Thomas Muller, Kroos and Schweinsteiger the supporting act, with the latter of the above trio recently extending his spell at the Allianz Arena. With Neuer and goal, and a defence including Phillip Lahm and Jerome Boateng, you would think that the Bundesliga giants would be solidified at the back as well.
Far from it in fact. In Boateng, they have a young centre-back, able to play right-back if need be, who has the potential to become one of Europe’s best defenders. However, the question is; who to play alongside him? Daniel Van Buyten may be experienced at 34-years of age and a powerhouse of a defender, but is hardly the quickest of centre-backs and his reading of the game and poor positional sense isn’t good enough for a team like Bayern.
Holger Badstuber, who Louis Van Gaal claimed to best left-footed in Germany in the past, is also hardly able to warrant a spot in the Bayern Starting XI. At 23-years-old, he may have time on his side to improve his game, but like Van Buyten, isn’t a player that would be expected to start at a team of Bayern’s size due to his inconsistency and lack of concentration and awareness.
Head coach Jupp Heynckes needs to act to bolster the back-line in the summer. Not necessarily a big name signing in the heart of the defence, but one that can step in alongside Boateng and form a partnership with the young German international in the hope of improving the defence that, despite containing a number of world class names, is still susceptible and prone to making high profile errors that have cost Bayern in the past.
Will Heynckes still be there?
Prior to the final, there was much speculation as to whether the veteran tactician would still be part of the Bayern set-up following the Champions League final. The 67-year-old, currently in his third spell with the Bavarian side, has won just three trophies during his combined five year spell at the club, leading to reports suggesting he may decide to call time with the club.
Managerless Liverpool are believed to be interested in bringing him to Anfield, either as head coach or as sporting director, which, at his age, could be wise as a means of testing his capabilities in the Premier League. Furthermore, the board are yet to deliver their doomed ‘vote of confidence’ in Heynckes, which could be a pro in his books, there has been little surrounding his future following Saturday’s defeat to Chelsea.
Had Bayern defeated their English counterparts, many wouldn’t have begrudged the well travelled German the opportunity to step down with dignity and the club’s first European trophy since 2001. However, the loss could go in one of two ways; either Heynckes opts to remain with the club to try again next year or, the loss in the Champions League final see’s him move on after accepting that A) Dortmund are the dominant power in Germany once again and B) teams in Europe are stronger than Bayern that will strengthen more over the summer leading to them falling behind in the chasing pact.
On the other hand, the Bundesliga is the emerging superpower in Europe and is set to usurp Spain, based purely on financial input from the German Football Association and the ever changing life cycle on football, and the chance to continue managing one of the nation’s biggest clubs may be enough to persuade Heynckes to remain at the Allianz Arena, if for at least one more season. However, he best be prepared to start the new campaign with a bang if he is to end the long two-year wait for silverware.