The 1990’s saw Bayern Munich nicknamed FC Hollywood by sections of the press after the club endured a number of unsavoury stories involving the inflated egos at the club that saw the off-field news overshadowing what was happening on the pitch. The last few weeks have seen Bayern once again in the spotlight for the wrong reasons- is FC Hollywood set to make a return?
2023 has not exactly panned out the way Bayern Munich fans and it’s leadership would have imagined. When the World Cup finished in December Bayern were Herbstmeister and looking forward to a bright start to the New Year and an attack on the treble. Three-and-a-half months later that treble dream is in tatters, they are fighting to retain their Bundesliga crown and are making regular headlines for the wrong reasons.
The Rekordmeister had not enjoyed the best of Hinrunde and were not their dominant selves. A run of four matches without a win including a loss to Augsburg highlighted that perhaps all was not well at the Allianz Arena. Serge Gnabry also drew public criticism from the club for a trip to Paris Fashion Week on his day off.
When the news filtered through that club captain Manuel Neuer had fractured his tibia and fibula while on a post-World Cup skiing holiday in Italy the New Year started on a downer. The wisdom of allowing such a risky holiday was questioned and the club were forced to act swiftly in the transfer window signing Yann Sommer from Borussia Mönchengladbach for €8 million with Neuer out for the season.
The club then surprisingly sacked long-serving goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic. The reasons were unclear, but rumours that Julian Nagelsmann had lost trust in the coach and suspected that had been passing on confidential coaching discussions to Neuer were mentioned.
Neuer was outraged at the decision to sack his trusted coach and blasted the club in an interview with the Suddeutsche Zeitung and the Athletic. “Toni was always a team player with us, everyone saw it that way. He wasn’t working for me for 11-and-a-half years, but for the entire goalkeeper group, for the coaching staff and for the club. I felt like my heart was being ripped out.”
CEO Oliver Kahn was not a happy man when seeing the interview hitting back at Neuer. “What Manuel said in parts of these two interviews in connection with Toni Tapalovic’s release does neither do justice to him as captain nor to the values of FC Bayern. In addition, his statements are untimely because we are facing very important games.”
A fine is reported to have been handed down, while the veteran keeper’s future role as club captain is thought to be under threat.
When Bayern overcame Paris St. Germain in the Champions League round of 16, the future looked a little rosier with coach Julian Nagelsmann praised for his tactical nous in combatting Neymar, Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe et al.
March 19th however saw Bayern lose at Bayer Leverkusen and with the international break coming up the club controversially took the decision to sack Nagelsmann. Bayern had started the New Year with three draws and lost to Mönchengladbach, but there was little indication that a change in coach was on the cards.
When news of the firing leaked, Nagelsmann was on a mini holiday and found out online rather than being informed directly by the club. The choice of Thomas Tuchel to replace him was the obvious choice, but the manner of the sacking drew headlines and criticism from club legend Lothar Matthäus, who had a spat with Oliver Kahn in front of the Sky cameras during the half-time interval of the Klassiker.
Kahn v Matthäus
Matthäus accused Kahn of lying over his version of the events leading up to Nagelsmann being informed and said the club’s mantra of ‘Mia San Mia’ was being damaged. Bayern’s CEO wasn’t going to sit back and take the criticism.
“I’d like to ask you, Lothar: What do you actually mean by ‘Mia san mia’ when you insinuated that there is no more ‘Mia san mia’? You just throw the phrase out there and then anyone can find a different interpretation of the term!
“Perhaps there are a few people here working on false nostalgia or distortion. You probably recall from our time here that there were always hard decisions that had to be made in the interest of the club. Such decisions aren’t always popular. But this insinuation that we’re not upholding the style of FC Bayern München. I would be very, very careful about saying that.”
Treble to single
Thomas Tuchel got off to the perfect start with a 4-2 win over title-chasing Borussia Dortmund in his first match in charge just days after taking over. His next game however wasn’t such a happy affair as Bayern were dumped out of the DFB Pokal at home by Freiburg.
The whole premise given for sacking Nagelsmann was the club wanting to protect the treble challenge and within days one part of that was out of the window. This week’s 3-0 defeat to Manchester City saw Bayern all-but eliminated from the Champions League leaving the club with ‘just’ the Meisterschale to play for, but even that is not a foregone conclusion with Dortmund still very much in contention.
Mané v Sané
As if the chastening loss to Pep Guardiola’s City was not a bitter enough pill to swallow, the news of a physical altercation between Sadio Mané and Leroy Sané made the trip to England a whole lot worse.
The pair were seen arguing on the Etihad pitch towards the end of the game and it spilled over into the dressing room post-match. The Senegalese forward is said to have thrown a punch which cut Sané’s lip with some reports claiming Sané had racially insulted Mané.
The duo were pulled apart by teammates and on arrival back in Munich, Mané was picked up in a private car and separated from the squad. He will face a club fine and has been dropped from the squad to face Hoffenheim this weekend.
The players have reportedly apologised to their teammates, but it remains to be seen whether there is any further fallout from the incident.
While not in the same league as some of the shenanigans of the 90’s (Steffen Effenberg/ Thomas Strunz’s wife, Uli Hoeness’ prison sentence and Giovanni Trapattoni ‘s epic rant) the unwanted headlines are not what the club have become used to in recent years.
The worst case scenario would see BVB win the league, Bayern emerge empty-handed from the season and Thomas Tuchel have a meltdown next season as he battles the Bayern egos. At best Bayern win an 11th consecutive Bundesliga title and normal service resumes next season under Tuchel’s expert tutelage.
This however is FC Bayern Munich and rarely do they manage to stay out of the headlines. Those involved will be hoping the future headlines are positive rather than a return to the days of FC Hollywood.
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