A.n a summer’s day on the Tegernsee, Robert Lewandowski was sitting in Uli Hoeneß’s house and said: “Mr Hoeneß, you absolutely have to talk to Mr Zahavi.” It was not difficult to guess what the FC Bayern striker Lewandowski said of the FC Bayern president Hoeneß wanted. With Zahavi, his new advisor, he tried to enforce a demand: He wanted to move to Real Madrid.
When Hoeneß heard this, he later said in an interview with FAZ, he replied: “Yes, please, my next appointment is September 3rd.” Wait, Lewandowski is supposed to have replied, the transfer phase is already over. “That’s exactly why,” said Hoeneß. “No matter what, Bayern Munich will not sell you.”
That ended the discussion. Lewandowski had to stay – and Hoeneß and his Bavarians were able to prove once again: If they don’t want to let an employee who is under contract go, then he won’t go either.
Two levels of separation
Now, almost three years later, the coach Hansi Flick has announced that he wants to leave FC Bayern in the summer – even though he signed a contract last year that is valid until June 30, 2023. At first glance, that doesn’t fit. Unlike usual, it was not FC Bayern who communicated that they no longer wanted a coach. It was the coach who has now communicated that he no longer wants FC Bayern – with whom he has the following statistics in a year and a half: 81 games, 67 wins, seven draws, seven defeats, six titles.
At second glance, however, it fits. Taking into account the Lewandowski case, one must assume that Flick’s decision should not be entirely wrong for the club.
There are two levels in this separation, which has been hinted at over the past few weeks. The first level revolves around the conflict between coach Flick and sports director Salihamidžić. They often disagreed, especially when it came to evaluating players. Once Flick even insulted Salihamidžić and later apologized for it. The second level, which is the most important one, revolves around a fundamental question: How much should the coach actually have to say at Bayern?
This discussion split the association into two groups. On one side are Salihamidžić and the still influential Hoeneß. They take the old approach: little say for the trainer. On the other side are Flick and the outgoing CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. You advocate the new approach, which provides for more say. There are good arguments for both approaches. But that’s how it is at Bayern: In the end, the group with Hoeneß usually wins.
Now Flick has given up – and with their old approach they have given Hoeneß and Salihamidžić a big problem. What to do if the next coach, for example Julian Nagelsmann, cannot do much with the old approach? What to do if the next trainer is unsuccessful? Then the demanding flick will no longer be there, but its statistics will be.
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