Behind the scenes trouble at FC Hollywood: just what is going wrong at Bayern Munich under Thomas Tuchel?

Published on 1 May 2023 at 20:00

There are three certainties in life: “Tod, Steuern, und Bayern München: Bundesliga Sieger”. But can we REALLY say that Bayern Munich winning the Bundesliga this season is a certainty like it has been in the past?


For a decade straight, Bayern Munich have had a vice-like grip on the German top flight, repeatedly crushing the title challenges of Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Wolfsburg with ease. Fans commended their dominance and ability to adapt, whilst critics were quick to lambast the league as boring and predictable. 


In 2023 however, the grip is finally showing signs of coming loose, and there’s a very real possibility Bayern Munich will end their season with just the German Supercup to their name: something that would have seemed unfathomable even at the beginning of January, and this is shaping up to be their worst season since the 2011/12 campaign, where they finished 2nd in the league, and lost both the DFB Pokal and UCL finals: a sure sign of the high standards set at the club.


So just where has it all gone wrong for the Bavarian behemoth, and what could they do next season to properly restore themselves to the throne at the top of German football?

Lewandowski Exits Stage Left


Robert Lewandowski’s performances for Bayern Munich between 2019 and 2022 were the stuff of legend. A near-flawless Champions League campaign in the 2019/20 tournament (the Pole only failed to score in the final itself), Ballon D’or nominations, even breaking the legendary goalscoring record of Gerd Muller, there wasn’t a player on the planet who could match Lewandowski and his performances.


So when the striker departed for FC Barcelona in the Summer of 2022 (where he is set to scoop both the league title and Pichichi award for top goalscorer), it seemed surprising that Bayern Munich opted to rely upon the ageing Sadio Mane and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to maintain their attacking ferocity.


Choupo-Moting has held up his end of the bargain, being the club’s top scorer with 17 goals so far this season. But for ex-Liverpool star Mane, his €32m transfer has proven to be a major disappointment, with just seven goals from 22 games in the Bundesliga this season: at this current goal-per-game ratio, it’s set to be Mane’s second worst average in the last decade of his playing career. It’s a damning indictment on Mane’s performances when the highlight of his tenure is the alleged altercation with Leroy Sane and subsequent suspension. 

A Plot Twist That Failed To Deliver


Bayern Munich’s problems don’t just disappear off the pitch either. In one of the most conflicting, confusing managerial sackings in recent memory, CEO Oliver Kahn dismissed Julian Nagelsmann in favour of free agent Thomas Tuchel, who was returning to his homeland following mixed spells at PSG and Chelsea.


It draws parallels to the shock dismissal of Jose Mourinho by owner Daniel Levy at Tottenham Hotspur in 2020. This was just days before their Carabao Cup final clash against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, just without Mourinho skateboarding to the Training Centre in Enfield.

Mourinho and Nagelsmann: two managers who were producing some fantastic performances and results for the club, almost spitefully sacked by out-of-touch executives in favour of a man who better fit the club’s image and conduct expectations. And we know how well this has all panned out for Tottenham in the three years following their dismissal of Mourinho…


Tuchel’s tenure began relatively well, defeating 2nd place Borussia Dortmund 4-2 in Der Klassiker, but the baptism of fire soon scorched Tuchel, as high stakes games against the likes of Freiburg in the DFB Pokal and Manchester City in the Champions League saw Die Roten crash out of both competitions in relatively humiliating fashion. 

The UCL exit at the hands of former manager Pep Guardiola must have particularly stung, considering Bayern’s outstanding defensive record heading into the first leg (they had only conceded two goals up until that point, with six clean sheets against Barcelona, Inter Milan, and PSG) but an all-time poor performance from Dayot “UpaMaguire”, terrible cameos from the likes of Mane and Leroy Sane, and MOTM performances from Bernardo Silva and Erling Haaland saw their opponents through.


Tuchel’s monumental victories over the Spaniard Guardiola and his dangerous City side during his time at Chelsea ultimately had no relevance to the tie: Bayern’s chances of progressing quickly evaporated, as did any semblance of a ‘successful’ season that they have come so easily to expect year after year. 


So what should’ve been another great push towards domestic and continental dominance has instead descended into a power struggle with Borussia Dortmund for the Bundesliga title once again: at the time of writing, the two rivals sit on 62 and 61 points with four games left to go. With some equally tough and easy fixtures ahead, one mistake from Bayern Munich and destiny will be out of their hands. 

An Uncertain Future For The Franchise


Whilst the rest of the Bundesliga, and most of Europe’s elite sides, may be expressing a  great feeling of schadenfreude concerning Bayern’s ongoing woes, how long will this Bayern down period actually go on for? And what can actually be done to fix it?


During the crisis that saw the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti in the 2017-18 campaign, Bayern resorted to coaxing the legendary Jupp Heynckes out of retirement for the rest of the season: a distinct lack of available former managers (Pep Guardiola and Hansi Flick both being occupied with their respective teams, whilst the acrimonious departures of Ancelotti and Niko Kovac likely rule them out of ever returning) makes this a non-option this time around. 


So could a new signing be the major catalyst for Bayern to rebound on the global football staging? Where the Bundesliga may be lacking in exposure and financial incentive, it makes up for in silverware opportunities, and there’s perhaps one player in the world for whom silverware would enrich his career and guarantee his legacy within the game like it would for no one else: Harry Kane.

With just one more year left on his current Spurs contract, and few major signs the club will win the trophies Kane so desires to hold, Kane and Bayern Munich seems like a truly perfect fit. 


Similar to Thomas Muller in his centre forward play, with the potency and finishing ability that Lewandowski took with him to Barcelona, a move to Germany would be mutually beneficial for all parties involved: Bayern get the striker they need, Kane gets his career-best chance at silverware, and Spurs manage to secure a fantastic amount of money without having to sell their best player to one of their league rivals. 


Kane being Spurs’ best player is perhaps the major roadblock in this fantasy transfer: there aren’t many players in all of world football who can boast Kane’s current goal and assist tally for the season: take those goals away from Spurs, and they would risk plummeting down the Premier League table. 


So assuming Kane is off the table, do Bayern return to their vulture-esque transfer strategy of recent memory and poach players from up and down the Bundesliga table? Randal Kolo-Muani has been returning solid numbers for Eintracht Frankfurt, and Borussia Monchengladbach’s Marcus Thuram is out of contract and confirmed to be leaving the club on a free in the Summer. Both young Frenchmen are ready to become truly top talent for both their club and for Les Bleus, and are perhaps the most readily-available options for a Bayern side looking for goalscorers with little-to-no need to adapt to the league. 

In summary, hope isn’t all lost at Bayern Munich, but the tense situation both on and off the pitch has the potential to snowball into such a state that could impact Bayern Munich and all of German football for years to come. 


For FC Hollywood, a triumphant series of blockbuster years has turned into a critically-panned disasterflick that threatens to derail the entire franchise. The final four league games of the season could have major ramifications for Bayern for years to come…


Do you think Bayern Munich will win the Bundesliga this season? How do you think they can improve after their DFB Pokal and UCL exits? Keep up-to-date by liking and following HL Division Sport across all our social media channels, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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