The unexpected drama between FC Bayern Munich and coach Hansi Flick has turned from surprising to bizarre.
Following Flick’s shocking announcement after FC Bayern’s 3-2 win over Wolfsburg on Saturday that he asked the club to terminate their contract, the club have issued a statement.
He said FC Bayern “disapprove of the one-sided communications issued by Hansi Flick” because he wanted to stay focused on the remaining games of the season.
He added that talks between the two sides will take place once the season is over.
From his statements released yesterday, it’s clear that Flick has a very different perspective.
“I just wanted to tell the team after the game today because I knew how difficult and important it is to talk about it at the club,” he said.
“It was important for me that the team heard it from me because there are already a rumor or two[ed] [and] we worked very well together for two years.
The question on everyone’s lips is why?
There has been a long-standing dispute with sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic over the decision to let go of senior players like Thiago Alcantara, David Alaba and Jerome Boateng.
While it’s understandable that Flick could be annoyed by the aggressive approach to refreshing the gaming staff, that surely wasn’t enough to make him leave.
After all, Flick handed the Champions League trophy to the Allianz arena last season with the German title, which the club are set to retain.
His outing last week in this year’s competition for the 2020 Paris Saint-Germain finalists was not a failure, the draw could easily have happened, especially if top scorer Robert Lewandowski had been in good shape.
Nevertheless, after less than two years, the former deputy director of Germany had decided he had had enough.
He is far from the only coach to do so at FC Bayern.
Despite its reputation for prudence, wise management and continuity, the Bavarian giants have burned their share of leadership over the past two decades.
Since Ottmar Hitzfeld’s departure in 2004, only Pep Guardiola has managed the club for three consecutive seasons.
The unlikely heroes of Bayern Munich
Hansi Flick’s Champions League triumph continued a rather odd trend at Bayern Munich; the success of the unelected.
Over the past decade, Bayern have tended to name big names like Carlo Ancelotti, Pep Guardiola and Louis Van Gaal, but it is often the less famous leaders who have contributed the most to the club.
Flick, for example, was named Nico Kovac’s number two in 2019 in an attempt to strengthen the behind-the-scenes team rather than as an alternative to the Croatian.
When Kovac left a few months later, Flick took over temporarily and few could have imagined 9 months later that he would hold the Champions League trophy in the air, but that’s what happened. .
It was reminiscent of Jupp Heynckes, the regular pair of hands introduced for two years between the reigns of Louis Van Gaal and Pep Guardiola, who also won the Champions League.
Both have a thoughtful, less intense style that seemed to liberate players from the performance.
The exit of Van Gaal with hindsight
There seems to be a clear explanation as to why Van Gaal and Guardiola left Bayern after relatively short spells but, in light of Flick’s departure, it’s worth reconsidering the club’s role.
By the time Van Gaal left Bayern the wheels were completely off, the team were struggling in a way not seen for some time.
After winning the title and reaching the Champions League final the previous season, things shouldn’t have happened so quickly.
Part of the reason was that Van Gaal started to clash with Bayern Munich heavyweights Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness, both of whom grew increasingly irritated by his refusal to listen.
As the Dutchman is a bit of a combustible character with a famous ego, when he left it few people considered FC Bayern to be the difficult part.
But looking back, you have to wonder if they were.
Van Gaal claimed ex-chairman Hoeness had “influence over everything from the board to the coach” and that this affected his relationship with the players.
How Flick has been undermined, others appearing to be calling the spotlight on the departures of key players over the past two years, draws parallels to the interference Van Gaal complained about.
Guardiola: more than what we see?
From a PR perspective, Pep Guardiola’s departure was handled in a spectacular fashion by FC Bayern.
It was an amicable separation which, given the Catalan’s other brief stint in Barcelona, was not entirely unexpected.
During his tenure, Guardiola did not clash with the club hierarchy like Van Gaal, but he fell out with his medical team.
Four staff members resigned after apparently being blamed for defeat in the Champions League, although this is hardly proof that the club refuses to give a manager what he wants, on the contrary, it was the opposite.
The question of whether the Bayern structure could not accommodate Guardiola stems from the comfort he seems to have found at Manchester City and the length of his stay there.
After spending three years in Bavaria, he is now in his fifth at City.
Part of the reason he signed extra time earlier this season was because of “unfinished business” suspected of being the Champions League, the same trophy he left Bavaria without delivering.
Guardiola and Van Gaal were both intense and demanding coaches so their differences could be expected.
The more relaxed Flick is therefore more of a surprise and therefore perhaps a warning.
But it makes you think, who should they turn to next?
Like Real Madrid, the key seems to lie in the players’ ability to perform, as Jupp Heynckes was good at.
When asked how, after coming to replace Carlo Ancelotti in 2017 for a fourth stint at FC Bayern, he guided the club to the Bundesliga title, the beloved, soft-spoken veteran. mentionned:
“I just give the players confidence and steer them in the right direction.”