Hans-Dieter Flick: Caretaker or permanent Bayern boss?
Background image: MrT HK, CC BY 2.0
Bayern Munich are a peculiar club. Thrashed 5-1 by Eintracht Frankfurt, die Roten bounce back to score four a few days later. As their true potential is unmasked, that crushing defeat appeals to the conspiracy crowd as a well-planned event. It’s rather obvious the players weren’t playing for Niko Kovac anymore. He alienated influential figures such as Thomas Mueller while failing to match the standards set by his predecessors.
The squad feels differently about the Croatian's stand-in. Hans-Dieter Flick-ed a switch that ignited their passion again. An experienced candidate happy to work in the shadows, the German isn’t particularly nervous under the spotlight. His positivity and willingness to work according to his players’ strengths rubs off pretty well. Romps over Borussia Dortmund and Olympiacos prove as much. The board must take notice.
Flick won't impose any radical changes on the Bavarians. Vastly experienced on the Bundesliga circuit and a former Bayern player, he knows the club inside out. As a former national team assistant, his ability to develop personal bonds and set players to firing on all cylinders is common knowledge.
He doesn't shift players around to react to opponent's schemes. With top quality at his disposal, the 54-year-old sticks to one game-plan, allows his players to express themselves and expects their quality to show. Most importantly, he trusts them to support each other. Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Perisic could shift from the bench to the starting XI upon delivering better results consistently.
Of course, it's hard to go wrong as a manager with a striker who scores 16 goals in 11 games. At this rate, Robert Lewandowski might reach 50 in Bayern's 34-game season. The Pole's creativity allows wingers to strut their stuff as well. Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry bring electricity. Gnabry is on 11 goals himself. Meanwhile, jack of all trades Joshua Kimmich does whatever is required in effortless fashion. The question then is how did Kovac cock this up?
As you might guess from those numbers, defending was the Croatian's downfall. Flick has already tightened up the rearguard. Javi Martinez and David Alaba in the middle are a functional partnership. Denying Dortmund a single shot on goal requires extreme concentration and cooperation. The caretaker boss quickly transformed the Rekordmeister into a compact unit that exploits each player's clever movements.
If given the opportunity to continue, Flick faces challenges in rotating his side while maintaining intensity. When injured players return, he must find roles for them while keeping the new signings involved. Based on the early response, he deserves more time to prove his worth. Arsene Wenger as a short term option just wouldn’t work. Jose Mourinho is a ticking time-bomb the board doesn't need [they have their own in Uli Hoeness]. Massimiliano Allegri hasn't proved he can work outside Italy.
Ajax manager Erik ten Hag might be available in the summer. Why not wait for the former Bayern 2 coach? For now, Flick deserves to remain in the spotlight. He’s thrown that vintage fearsome cloak around der FCB's shoulders again. The players clearly thrive under his leadership.
Joachim Loew's old right hand deserves to be granted an interim role till the Christmas holidays at least. If Bayern pushes back into the title-race and remains strong in Europe, extending his role till the summer would be the logical option. Any decision regarding a permanent boss can be made in June when the anointed has time to plan.