It’s been three weeks since Bayern sacked Niko Kovac and appointed Hansi Flick in temporary charge – since then, Munich have played four, won four, scored 16 goals and conceded none – making it officially the best start ever by any Bayern manager. With stats like that, many people are already asking the question “why hire somebody else? Just give Flick the job…” – but that is a trap that Bayern must NOT fall into.
It seems to be that when a coach is given the top job on a temporary basis, they operate on a “nothing to lose” policy as they make use of the lack of pressure on their shoulders. However, as soon as that role shifts from temporary to one with a little more permanence to it – everything changes.
To make this point clear, you need look no further than Ole Gunnar Solksjaer – the fortunes of the Norwegian have quite drastically differed as permanent manager than they did while he was still in temp charge.
As interim boss, Solksjaer took charge of 19 games, winning 14, drawing two and losing just three. It’s worth noting that the three games United lost were against PSG, Arsenal and a very in-form Wolves side – so they were hardly shocking results. In that period, United averaged 2.32 points per game and scored a very impressive 2.11 goals (40 total) per game, while conceding an average of 0.89 goals (17 total).
Then came March 28th, when Manchester United made Ole’s dreams come true and handed him the reigns on a permanent basis. Since that day, the contrast has been massive. In 29 matches, United have racked up 11 wins, eight draws and 10 losses – meaning an average points per game total of just 1.41 – already a massive drop. As well as that, they have scored an average of 1.34 goals (39 total) and, weirdly, conceded an average of 1.34 goals (39 total) per game.
So, why is there such a stark contrast before and after the permanent contract? For me, the answer is, as I alluded to earlier, simply the level of pressure on the coaches shoulders. When you’re the boss at a club like Bayern Munich or Manchester United, there is a huge weight of expectation upon your shoulders. The fans expect results, they expect to be entertained and they expect to win trophies.
As an interim boss, that pressure and weight of expectation just isn’t a factor. You’re not expected to pull up any trees and I think that, coupled with the nothing to lose attitude of the coach and players, yields some pretty fearless and impressive football.
If not Flick, who?
The answer to this one to me is simple given that Mauricio Pochettino is out of work. I wrote an article last week, when the rumours linking Poch to Bayern surfaced, detailing out why I think it’s a good idea – you can read that here.
However, it seems that Bayern are planning to stick by their word and keep Flick in place until at least January. If that happens, I can see Flick getting the job until the end of the season at the very least. Based on reports from Germany, it seems as though Bayern will look to hold out for Erik Ten Hag – who is maintaining his position that he will not leave his role at Ajax until the end of the season.
Away from those two names, the likes of Mass Allegri, Laurent Blanc and Antonio Conte are the next three names on the list of favourites – at least according to BetVictor.
Can you make a case at all for Flick?
Of course. At the end of the day, Flick’s Bayern have not just won all four of their games so far, they’ve absolutely battered nearly everyone. Two 4-0 wins, one against their HUGE rivals Borussia Dortmund, as well as two very impressive Champions League wins. Last night’s game saw them go to Serbia and blow Red Star Belgrade out the water in their own back yard – something which is notoriously hard to do. Even eventual European champions, Liverpool, lost there last season.
For me though, despite that, Bayern have to avoid the temptation to give him the job on a permanent basis. It’s something we see happen all the time in the Premier League and it pretty much always go awry pretty quickly. If OGS isn’t enough evidence of my point, look up Craig Shakespeare at Leicester. If you want to go back even further, look back at Roberto di Matteo at Chelsea, Garry Monk at Swansea, Joe Kinnear at Newcastle etc etc etc…
The evidence is there throughout the last ten years alone to prove to Bayern that handing Flick a permanent contract is the wrong move. What they need to do is leave him there as interim boss, take their time selecting a new manager and make sure they make the correct decision for the long-term future of Bayern Munich.