Bayern Munich were sitting fourth in the table, four points behind the leaders. They had won just one of their last four games. By the end of the season, Bayern Munich got their hands on the Championship, the DFB Cup, and the Champions League. This was the first season for Hansi Flick as the manager of Bayern Munich. No one had had the slightest hint that it would go on to become the best debut season in the history of football.
The end of the road for Niko Kovac
Niko Kovac took the reins of Bayern Munich from Jupp Heynckes at the start of 2018-19 season and delivered a domestic double for the club. The season was not an easy one by any means as the Bavarians were nine points behind the league leader at one point.
However Kovac could not deliver the coveted UEFA Champions League to the club, that it so badly desired.
The beginning of the 2019-20 season was a nightmare for the German giants. Bayern Munich was sitting at an unacceptable fourth position in the league, four points away from the leaders and had managed only one win in their last four matches.
A 5-1 defeat against Eintracht Frankfurt meant that it was the end of the road for Kovac.
"I think this is the right decision for the club at the moment," Kovac explained in a statement. "The results, and also the way we last played, made me come to that decision. My brother Robert and I thank Bayern for the last one and a half years. During this time, our team has won the championship, the DFB Cup, and the Supercup. It was a good time. I wish the club and the team all the best."
Who is Hansi Flick?
Hans-Dieter “Hansi” Flick is a former German professional player who was the assistant coach of Joachim Low for the German national team from 2006 to 2014.
He also played for his current employer Bayern Munich.
Prior to Bayern Flick had managed several clubs such as Viktoria Bammental, 1899 Hoffenheim. He also worked as an assistant of Giovanni Trapattoni and Lothar Matthaus and was the sporting director of Red Bull Salzburg. Flick stated that these brief stints as an assistant to many renowned managers helped him greatly during his Bayern campaign.
Hansi Flick: The Man manager
Hansi Flick took charge of the German club in November, no one expected Bayern to win the league that season, let alone the treble. Flick was brought only as an interim manager until a suitable replacement was found. Little did anyone know that this was going to be the best debut season that the footballing world has ever seen.
In his first league match, Flick’s Bayern steamrolled over Borussia Dortmund with a thumping 4-0 victory. Not only did he return Bayern back to winning ways, but he also did it with flare and ruthlessness which were going to become the signature style of Bayern Munich that season.
High-octane pressing, short crisp passing, calmness from playing from the back, fruitful possession, and ruthless counter-attack were the main ingredients of Flick’s Bayern side.
Hansi Flick trusted his players. The veterans such as Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer, and Jerome Boateng all saw a resurgence in their form under Flick. Joshua Kimmich was given his midfield role full-time and Alphonso Davies was given the opportunity to develop into the world’s most feared left-back at only 19 years of age.
The debut of dreams
In addition to Hansi Flick’s Bayern Munich, Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in 2008-09 and Luis Enrique’s Barcelona in 2014-15 won the coveted treble in their debut season. All of these squads were brilliant on their own, however, the feat achieved by Hansi Flick becomes all the more impressive while considering the fact that, he had no say over the transfer window and has adopted all the players from the previous manager as it was. He had also taken over the club almost midseason in January.
Bayern Munich was longing for a Champions League trophy. Prestigious coaches such as Guardiola himself and Ancelloti could not deliver to the club’s high expectations.
Hansi Flick’s tactics
Although Bayern Munich is a squad with high quality players, they were previously not able to reach the heights that Flick took them to. It mainly boiled down to the tactics used by the new coach.
Hansi Flick improved Bayern’s build-up play. This philosophy was introduced to the players during the reign of Guardiola but was somewhat lost during Kovac’s managerial tenure. Bayern once again dominated the possession but in a very aggressive and fruitful way. The fullbacks pushed higher with the holding midfielder Goretzka coming back to support the defense.
Under Flick, Thiago once again became the main midfield player who controlled the tempo of the game and always kept the game moving. Every once in a while, a magical pass from Thiago would cause the net to bulge in the opponent’s end.
Bayern’s wing-based attacks allowed the wingers to come to the center and establish more control on the flanks by the wingbacks. Domination on the flanks was seen as a crucial aspect of Bayern’s offense.
Under Flick, Bayern pressed hard. Control over central areas allowed Bayern players to be accurately placed and force turnovers and recover the ball to Thiago or Muller who were always one pass away form making yet another assist.
The 2020-21 season
Lots of changes have taken place in the Bayern squad from last season, with the departure of the likes of Thiago, Ivan Perisic and Coutinho. However fresh faces such as Leroy Sane and Douglas Costa has also arrived at the Allianz Arena.
This season Bayern Munich has started just as they left off last season. Hansi Flick has lost only one game so far this season and anything less than a trophy would be considered a disappointment for the German giants.
Hansi Flick has managed to completely transform Bayern Munich by striking the perfect chord between world-class veterans such as Manuel Neuer(34) and up and coming young superstars such as Alphonso Davies(20). Tough competitions are expected from the likes of Dortmund and RB Leipzig, but Hansi Flick’s Bayern Munich so far have shown no signs of stopping.