Bayern Munich: really a Club with a sporting concept?
My definition includes three types of Clubs: Concept Clubs (10%) on the one hand and Consumer Clubs as well as Thousand Island Clubs (90%) on the other hand. The first group includes Clubs that have a sustainable, complementary concept of management and development in all relevant areas and implement it consistently as well as in the long term. In two other groups are Clubs that operate without their own identity, strategy (existing at most isolated in non-sporting areas), concepts, models as well as the necessary consistency and are almost completely dependent on the convictions, ideas, but also skills of the employed staff. In which group can FC Bayern Munich be found? This global Club stands as an example for the largest football organisations. Behind a glittering facade.
After the dismissal of Julian Nagelsmann at Bayern Munich, widespread publicity focused on the internal communication of the decision. Many were outraged by the approach of Oliver Kahn and Hasan Salihamidzic, which I acknowledged with a smile. In times when large sections of society take not answering their emails or not turning up on the first day of work for granted, this wave of outrage is simply hypocritical.
Of course, concrete mistakes were made on the club side around the event, but these are also the coach’s fault. In my “Club Development Model”, this type of error on the part of the board members is to be found in the development area “Communication” –> “Internal Communication” –> “Decision Transmission”. It is an important part of managing, but not structural. For this reason, I do not want to focus on it.
In this case, we are dealing with a number of structural levels that prove that professional Clubs throughout Europe often “sell” themselves much better than they actually work. Or, in other words, the Clubs in elite football (the first two divisions in each country) are proclaimed to be exemplary, without questioning their actions in terms of content-related matters. I will name three eminently important levels:
🔷 “Club Development Model”
🔷 Team development
🔷 Evaluation of the coach (staff)
▶ “Club Development Model”
This is a content-related foundation of Club management and Club development. It is the prerequisite for predictable progress. Here I ask questions about one part of the model. Does the Club have its own internally binding football intellectual foundation that shapes a uniform way of thinking among all employees? Is there a broad-based Club profile that includes aspects such as football DNA as well as an understanding of long-term development? Does the said profile also influence strategy, in-house designed definitions, concepts, content-related models and operations? Has a COMPLEX football concept been developed (with a complex and functional Game Model), which is regarded as the Club’s own sporting bible and the most influential factor in the entire Club development? Is the sporting strategy based on this concept? Does sporting strategy exist at all? Has any thought been given to the corresponding organisational structure, detailed position profiles, Specialist profiles and working modelsof the staff (including coaching staff) in the sporting area? Are Specialists (including Coaches) being educated internally and recruited externally according to these high standards? Are work processes derived from consistent principles of the development model and complex football concept? Is a strategic-synergic way of managing used? Is the complex football concept responsible for the overall development or do two Clubs exist within one Club? In other words: first team and academy separate. Are sporting projects multi-layered, coherently structured and realised in the long term? Has a correlation been established between the sporting area and other areas of development in order to create synergies and symmetry?
Little is heard from Munich. Content-based guidelines are not communicated. What is left is observation and analysis. Afterwards, I often have the feeling that the plan is limited to a few elements. Whereby the four that catch the eye the most are: “hire game-winning Coaches at last Clubs”, “generate more revenue”, “sign new players again” and “leave it to the coaching staff to win games (somehow)”.
As an external observer, I do not see most of the listed elements of a genuine Club Development Model at Bayern Munich (see: questionnaire above). For Clubs of this size, it is grotesque that a lack of football DNA is noticeable. For a long time, people in Munich talked about dominance on the pitch. At least a sign of the sporting direction. It’s just a pity that the last hired coach who preached dominance football was Josep Guardiola (except for his last season: deliberate departure from this idea of the game). Dominance does not mean winning a game 6-0, creating goal-scoring chances by the dozen, or having a lot of possession imposed by the opponent. “Dominance” is a philosophy of play. A playing idea that can only be achieved through control (own team | game | opponent). Via complexly conceived possession that pursues 7-10 key objectives. This style of play is again only possible with Coaches who rely on team tactical behaviour (10% on the market). No Coach after Guardiola was principally and methodically “equipped” with football dominance. Not Carlo Ancelotti. Not Jupp Heynckes. Definitely not Niko Kovac. Not Hansi Flick. Really not Julian Nagelsmann. In addition, each one was characterised by a different coaching profile.
For the reasons mentioned above, the dissatisfaction with the style of play under Julian Nagelsmann was absurd. He is not a Coach who presents controlled football with his teams. The Game Model he prefers is not suited to that. Whether he knows that, I don’t know. But the decision-makers should have known. In this context, it is impossible to achieve structured team development, which is also reflected in the simple results. But the Bayern Munich board reacted actionistically. Especially to game results, which were the fault of their general style of Club management. So how has the executive board reacted? By hiring the next non-dominance coach. Coincidence or not. There is at least a step forward in terms of “game structure” in this choice. Thomas Tuchel brings in more structure into the first sub-phases of the build-up.
If a Club does not have (or exemplify) a football DNA, then it is miles away from the complex football concept (7 areas | 6 content-related models | several years of implementation). And so big Clubs become consumers and notoriously dependent institutions. Dependent on their staff. Every coaching staff that comes to FC Bayern turns over an extremely large amount. It is not a club-centric approach to management.
▶ Team development
Whether Julian Nagelsmann would have led the team to the next round in the DFB Cup and the Champions League, we do not know. Apart from differences in quality and coaching profiles between the ex-coach and Thomas Tuchel, Bayern Munich would have had greater chances of achieving results by the end of the season without a change of coaching staff. For the weighing up, we need a sober view. Is Bayern Munich managed in a club-centric way and are new coaching staffs integrated into the existing construct? No. And that would already be a cut in the middle of an ongoing season. FC Bayern is completely dependent on its sporting staff. In other words. A change in the coaching position simultaneously means a change in almost all areas of influence on team development.
In my opinion, the following structures are affected after the change from Nagelsmann to Tuchel:
❗ Definitely happens
🔹 perception of the problems
🔹 football understanding
🔹 content-related areas of team development
🔹 game understanding
🔹 analytical thinking
🔹 training stimuli | intellectual, tactical, fitness, psychological, analytical
🔹 methodical stimuli | complementary
🔹 Game Model
🔹 Model adaptation | tactics
🔹 Model adaptation | fitness
🔹 Model adaptation | psyche
🔹 Model adaptation | individual basis
🔹 tactical repeatability
🔹 discipline | on and off the pitch
🔹 reaction to external influences in the game
🔹 communication | coaching staff -> team
❗ Perhaps happens
🔹 training ethos
🔹 communication | player <-> player
It is a revolution. Even if the change – purely theoretically – was supposed to have a positive influence on the team in terms of perspective, the timing was simply wrong (sporting perspective). A season break would be appropriate. In addition, one should not forget: a team within a consumer Club still needs much longer to develop in a truly multi-layered way. The boards of directors each give the team fundamental as well as far-reaching change processes.
▶ Evaluation of the coach (staff)
As Sports Director, I have evaluated many Coaches. My understanding of Coach evaluation (coaching staff + individual members) implies about 30 criteria that are analysed within four time periods: before the engagement (scouting | recruiting), after a few weeks (confirmation phase), after a few months (perspective phase), after a few years (development phase).
The Bayern Munich board has decided that Thomas Tuchel has successfully passed the first phase. Now the second is underway, which always says a lot about the Coach, but also about the recruitment process. Tuchel – if he is confirmed as the right Coach – should be given a lot of time, especially since the problem with the consumer Club (keyword: revolution) makes his work much more difficult. In my opinion, game results should never play a role in the evaluation. FC Bayern has been winning the German championship for ten years. The Club makes use of temporary as well as supportive advantages, but only a few sporting structural ones. The results are often deceptive. Most of all the people involved.
Nowadays, Clubs are constantly trying to find new revenue sources. The topic has taken on such a life of its own that profound football thoughts and complementary projected Club development concepts have fallen by the wayside. And why do they want to generate more and more revenue? In order to continue investing tens of millions of euros in new players (player-centric approach). But there is more than enough money in circulation and the players are really excellent. Which is more than can be said for the teams. Clubs need a new way of thinking and complex concepts. Then teams will be able to play more than two passes under pressure. Less trends, more deep thinking.