If Bayern Munich bosses thought the firing of Julian Nagelsmann and the hiring of Thomas Tuchel was going to magically solve their problems, they were sorely mistaken as the club have lurched from DFB Pokal elimination to a second successive exit from the Champions League at the quarter-final stage. The pressure continues to grow on CEO Oliver Kahn with the fans making their displeasure very clear at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday. Should club legend Kahn be worried about going the same way as his former coach?
To say that Bayern fans are not happy with the way thing have been handled over the past few weeks would be an understatement. Trawl through social media outlets and finding positive comments about Bayern’s leadership figures is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
On Wednesday during Bayern’s Champions League clash with Manchester City, the Südkurve unfurled a large banner criticising the leaders directly. “Ziele dürfen verfehlt werden – Werte des Vereins nicht! Führungspolitik hinterfragen!” (Goals can be missed, but not the values of the club. Question the leadership policies).
The Bayern ship is not a happy ship right now and the ultimate captain of the floundering vessel is CEO Oliver Kahn. Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic and President Herbert Hainer have come under fire, but it’s Kahn who looks to be the man taking the lion’s share of the blame for the current climate at the club.
As the list of grievances against the 53-year-old grows, so too does the pressure on him and the question starts to be raised as to whether he needs to go as well.
The sacking of Julian Nagelsmann was very poorly handled regardless as to whether it ultimately proves to be the right decision. Having the story leaked and Nagelsmann finding out while on holiday was poor form and then potentially lying about the circumstances led to Kahn and Lothar Matthäus having their spat live on Sky Germany.
Matthäus claimed the club’s philosophy of ‘Mia San Mia’ was being damaged- a claim that clearly irked his former teammate Kahn.
However, since taking over as CEO in the summer of 2021, Kahn has faced a host of issues- a lot of which have been dealt with poorly. David Alaba was allowed to leave for Real Madrid on a free transfer rather than meet his wage demands, while talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski also departed the club in acrimonious circumstances for Barcelona. Bayern then failed to sign an equivalent striker to replace him and went into the new season with only Eric-Maxim Choupo Moting for Julian Nagelsmann to deploy. The fact that Jamal Musiala is the leading scorer with eleven goals says a lot.
Kahn and the leadership also faced a fan backlash for their continued financial dealing with Qatar. Despite protests about human rights issues and Bayern’s sponsorship deals, the club seem happy to continue with the partnership as long as it remains profitable for them.
Ex CEO Uli Hoeneß once claimed that just winning the Bundesliga title wasn’t enough for a club like Bayern, but in Oliver Kahn’s first two years in charge, that has been the case. The minimum goal has been achieved, but no more. They failed to reach the semi-final of the DFB Pokal or the Champions League in either season, and for the first time in an age, are in danger of being pipped to the Meisterschale by Borussia Dortmund.
Julian Nagelsmann was judged on results and a perceived inability to develop the squad sufficiently. If that is the standard by which people are judged, then CEO Kahn needs to watch out as a similar charge could be levelled at him. His current contract expires in 2024, but there is currently no mood at the club to talk about an extension.
Many Bayern fans would even support an earlier finish to his tenure. Interesting times are guaranteed ahead for FC Bayern and their under-fire CEO.