After all of the speculation and crazy gossip spun out on Twitter, we finally know who will be taking the hot seat at FC Bayern München. Plucked out of retirement, treble-winning coach Jupp Heynckes returns to Bavaria for his fourth spell in charge of Die Roten.
It has been a crazy week. The dismissal of Carlo Ancelotti saw his assistant Willy Sagnol step into the breach, but another disjointed performance in Berlin meant that the Frenchman was never going to be a solution, even in the short term.
The hunt had begun in earnest, and with it the wild media speculation. Speculation that was enough to drive any sane Bayern fan around the bend pretty quickly. As the process reached its inevitable crescendo, Twitter was awash will all sorts of rumours. Both Thomas Tuchel and Julian Nagelsmann had been “seen” in Munich, and Pep Guardiola had flown out from England for lunch with Uli Hoeness. The gossip mongers were lapping it up.
Louis van Gaal, who had been seen watching from the stands in Paris, was also thrown into the mix. (The gossipers had seemingly forgotten about the Dutchman’s curmudgeonly behaviour and his rather unsavoury rift with Hoeneß). Then there were tweets about former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique, and an impending announcement of his arrival at the Säbener Straße.
It was all getting rather silly.
Many Bayern fans had pressed the idea of Heynckes’ reappointment, more in hope than anything else. When word first came out, many were incredulous. Yet there it is. Legacy be damned, the light has been switched back on. “Osram” is back in Munich.
Some may wonder what was needed to persuade Heynckes to come out of retirement, and why he would want to risk his well-earned legacy. The answer is simple. Loyalty. Although he would spend his playing career with Bayern’s rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach during the 1970s, Heynckes quickly became part of the furniture in Munich as a coach. His friendship with Uli Hoeneß and relationship with the club run deep.
The job is not going to be be easy, and there is a risk that Heynckes’ polished legacy could be tainted. But these are not concerns for a man who has long been defined by his professionalism. What FC Bayern needs is stability, and nobody does stability better than the 72 year old.
The Bayern board has clearly decided on a short-term plan, and this has shaped the decision. Thomas Tuchel, for many the front-runner, was only going to be in it for the long haul. He was the choice for many pundits, but not for many Bayern fans and, as it turned out, for Hoeneß and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
Luis Enrique, for his part, was only going to be a long shot. There was a clear feeling that Bayern were not yet ready for another coach who was not fully conversant in German.
As for the other long term options, there were always going to be sticking points. Julian Nagelsmann is locked into his contract at Hoffenheim, and still has plenty to prove anyway. Jürgen Klopp, another pundit’s favourite, remains committed to his mission in Liverpool.
Everybody can be satisfied
With Jupp Heynckes at the helm, everybody can be satisfied. The fans will be happy. The board know their man well, and the coach knows the club and how things work. Those players that were there to share in the glory in 2013 are now the senior pros. Much the same was said about Carlo Ancelotti, but Jupp Heynckes is a proven expert in managing egos and bringing calm to the dressing room. It remains to be seen how he deals with some of the younger players and those on the fringe.
The senior professionals, whose waning enthusiasm for Ancelotti was a major catalyst in the Italian’s departure, should help make the transition an easy one. The likes of Thomas Müller, who had expressed a sense of alienation under Ancelotti, will surely be invigorated. If Heynckes can turn der Raumdeuter’s form around, it could work wonders both for Bayern and Germany.
Heynckes’ decision to return to Bavaria says a lot about his relationship with the club. 2013 was a glorious finale we will never forget, but it will forever be tainted with the nature of his departure following the earlier appointment of Pep Guardiola. That Heynckes can see beyond this speaks volumes about not only his deep connection with FC Bayern, but his professionalism.
What happens next
So, what happens next? In simple terms, we leave Jupp to do what he does best.
The mission, of course, is to right the wrongs and steady the ship. The Champions League is probably beyond this Bayern squad, and the Bundesliga is going to be more of a challenge than it has been over the past five seasons. Anything else will be a bonus. The decision not to commit to a long-term plan at this stage, surely means that Bayern will be gunning for a high profile replacement in the summer of next year.
It is hard to say what the available (and more crucially, suitable) options will be come next summer. But that is something we should put aside for now. The club has presented us with a solution, one that is more than satisfactory.