It doesn’t take a lot for doubts to emerge at Bayern Munich, given the gold standard of success they’ve built in the Bundesliga over the last decade or so. Niko Kovač found this out to his misfortune just last November, after a humiliating 5-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt. Bayern were just four points off top spot at the time, but such has been their dominance of the Bundesliga in recent seasons, that was enough for Kovač to be given his marching orders.
With expectations so high, it can be difficult in today’s climate of frequent managerial upheaval for a coach at one of Europe’s biggest clubs. Kovač found this out the hard way, but it’s his assistant who has now taken the reins at the Bavarian giants and is enjoying a much happier time in charge. Hans-Dieter Flick was given the job on an interim basis until a replacement could be found, but such was his success that Bayern gave him the job until the end of the season.
That decision has been vindicated through the team’s performances up until the Bundesliga was suspended as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Having been four points off the pace at the time of Kovač’s dismissal, Bayern now found themselves four points clear at the top of the table. With the season set to get back underway in the very near future, Flick’s side are in the driving seat to secure an eighth successive Meisterschale trophy. The latest odds on Bundesliga matches show Bayern to be firm favourites, but anything can happen in football.
Flick is not a man used to being top dog as far as coaching is concerned in recent years. You may have recognised him as Joachim Löw’s right-hand man during much of Löw’s reign as manager of the German national team. He did manage Hoffenheim for five years before joining Red Bull Salzburg as an assistant, and subsequently the German national side. Löw and Flick became infamous for their matching outfits on the touchline, and Flick was present as the team won the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.
A spell as sporting director for the German Football Association followed, before Flick joined up with Kovač to become assistant manager at Bayern Munich. He undoubtedly would not have expected to be taking sole charge at any stage, but Flick has proved himself capable at the highest level and has helped bring a greater sense of calm and organisation to Bayern.
Flick’s spell with the German national team will have helped him greatly as he steadied the ship. He has experience of dealing with many of Bayern’s top players, including Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller, Joshua Kimmich and Jerome Boateng among others. This knowledge of working with big-name players in a high-pressured environment has helped foster a sense of respect between players and manager in the dressing room, and Bayern are reaping the rewards on the pitch.
They’ll face stiff competition to secure the league title, as both Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig breathe down their neck menacingly. This is where Flick will face his greatest test. He perhaps lacks the experience of being at the helm of a side during times of extreme pressure. There are few clubs where the pressure is as great as at Bayern Munich, but Flick has so far proved he has the ability to keep a cool head and pass that sense of calm on to his players. With nine games to go, it could go down to wire. Then we’ll see if Flick really has what it takes to be the main man at one of Europe’s biggest clubs.