The news broke last Friday. The brilliant model journalist Rafael Buschmann and his team at Der Spiegel had managed to get access to documents proving that Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has been instrumental in the planning and eventual execution of a European Super League, one that would mean Bayern Munich’s exit from Bundesliga and German football in general. This has by many been seen as conspiring to treachery from the man, as his actions has made him top three on the list over the main antagonists of German football.
Der Spiegel’s unravelling story makes a compelling case for his dismissal as a Bayern boss, but they seem to be staying with him and he seems to be sitting rather calmly on his post. We have seen this on multiple occasions in the last years, how coaches have been brought in and subsequently been let go of while their board sits where they are, even though they are the ones to blame for much of the institutional chaos Bayern have come to find themselves in. This is Bayern’s main problem. Not the situation with their wingers, not Kovac’s defensive tactics and outlook, but instead the board’s unwillingness to see the truth. It can break the entire club, if they’re not careful.
After Bayern’s game against SC Freiburg, many started to question Kovac’s tactics. While this might be reasonable, Bayern should steamroll SC Freiburg on home turf with their eyes closed, the result and the criticism just directs blame somewhere else than where it really belongs. Niko has done what he has been able to do with what he has to do it with. By not signing any wing-backs and barely any wingers this summer, he finds himself lacking in squad depth and strength, two things his effective pressing is reliant upon. Without these key aspects of his game, Kovac has quickly had to resort to doing what he knows best – coaching the players individually instead of as a coherent team. This has led to the team spirit and team itself being shattered into many a piece, leaving Kovac alone in his ideas and concepts. At any other club, he would be given much more time to build something from the wreckage of a squad he has inherited, but Bayern’s bosses are rarely fond of the concept of time.
However, they have been kind enough to grant him enough time to at least try to work something out, with mixed results. Whether Kovac will stay on or get the sack before January, he is not at fault for the mistakes of his superiors, but merely a product of them.
Uli Hoeneß, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Hasan Salihamidzic have made themselves a name in football for a good reason. They have all played football successfully for Bayern and have therefore been given the role as leaders of the club. But we must question whether this trio is the right way forward for one of the biggest clubs in the world. The hilarious, albeit tragic press conference we saw a few weeks ago became the hallmark for what this trio has been all about – drastic behaviour – and we saw the “real” Hoeneß for the first time in quite some time.
We said that Uli had lost it, Bayern’s fans said that Uli doesn’t represent Bayern alone. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is an astute fellow still and will continue to be a good ambassador for the club. What now? Rummenigge has become a part of an infamous scandal that might lead to football viewing super clubs differently forever. He has conspired to go behind Bundesliga’s back and has therefore committed “crimes” against the league and what it stands for, namely inclusion and tradition. The reaction to this was obvious, Bundesliga’s fans were not going to stand for it, nor where Bayern’s, and reactions have followed. Protests against a Super League among their own supporters should be enough to off put the whole idea.
The interesting new discrepancy between the fans and the bosses at Bayern should be a splinter that makes them part. It should be the last straw for a demanding fan base in need for success and stable leadership, something these three will not give them, perhaps ever.
The question we all have now is when it will stop? Bayern’s bosses forced Thomas Müller’s wife to apologise to Niko Kovac after having questioned his actions as a coach by leaving Müller on the bench for the game against Freiburg. Knowing Kovac after three years at Eintracht, I know he isn’t the kind of man that would willingly force the wife of a player to apologise to him. This parody of a story must be the work of the bosses, thus digging themselves even further down in the already deep hole. Bayern have also denied the claims made by Der Spiegel, claims that have been backed up with proof.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has denied everything and has threatened to sue Der Spiegel and Rafael Buschmann for publishing “fake news”. They’ve thus become fact-resistant and overly-Machiavellian, which is never a good way to go for a despot.
This has become a parody. Bayern is one of the biggest clubs in the world, a club that has built its success on nothing but pride, tradition and hard work. Is this how we want to see all that demolished? Is this the way forward? It hurts us all to see Bayern this way, no matter what club we support. It’s not right, it’s just not right. It’s like seeing your worst enemy sick with cancer. You can’t help but feel sorry for them, even though they’ve made your life miserable. This is Bayern, this is their fate and I can’t help but feel bad. Is there a way out still? Yes. The solution, mainly aimed at the board, is spelled “R E S I G N”. And fans want them to do it now!
By Axel Falk.