Immediately following Bayern Munich’s 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain, club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge stated that the loss would come with “consequences.” Sure enough, it did, as then-manager Carlo Ancelotti, who had been at the helm of the club for just over a year, was fired. Here are five things we learned from his sacking.
Bayern’s underwhelming results in the Bundesliga are a major reason why Ancelotti is currently unemployed
Only six games into the Bundesliga season, the club finds itself in third place, three points behind current leaders Borussia Dortmund. While this ground can be made up later in the campaign, the club had little difficulty ending last season in the top spot.
With expectations high for the current season, their fan base and club management began to feel a bit uneasy with their current run of play. The loss in Paris became the nail in the coffin for the one person on the team whom they felt most accountable for the decline in play, so it didn’t come as a huge surprise.
Money can buy results
In past seasons, Bayern have been somewhat frugal in the buying of talent on the open market. While they spent close to $100 million in the most recent transfer window, this was a mere drop in the bucket compared to PSG’s spending spree. Les Parisiens spent roughly four times that amount on just two of their players (Neymar and Kylian Mbappe), and the difference on the pitch in terms of quality was palpable.
The biggest recent signing by Bayern from Real Madrid — Colombian international James Rodriguez — was brought in for big matches such as those on the Champions League stage. His performance against PSG was subpar, and he was replaced after the first half of play. Rodriguez certainly does not bear the entire blame for the loss, but it points to the fact that splashing money at a player must produce value on the pitch. PSG was able to successfully integrate new players into their game plan, while Bayern failed to do the same.
Ancelotti’s lineup gaffes in Champions League match were also a factor in his firing
Knowing he was going up against a much-improved PSG squad, Ancelotti made numerous changes to his starting eleven in the Champions League match compared to the previous Bundesliga game against Wolfsburg. Sitting on the bench at the start of the match were players such as Mats Hummels, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.
Of those three, only Hummels saw any playing time, and that was late in the match. Ribery, the longest-serving Bayern player on the squad, relished the opportunity to play on the big stage in the country he was born in, yet languished on the bench. None of these players were listed as having been fatigued prior to the match, and Ancelotti should’ve started his best lineup against a talented and hungry PSG squad.
Ancelotti appeared to have lost the locker room
Following their biggest Champions League defeat in group-stage play in 21 years, several Bayern players were interviewed by reporters and were given every opportunity to offer support for their manager. The players, including Robben and Thomas Muller, refused comment when asked if they were still behind their manager. With their silence deafening, the dye was cast for the removal of Ancelotti.
Losing the locker room is never good for any manager, no matter the sport.
Bayern still have issues aside from Ancelotti
While much of the blame of the teams’ performance can be attributed to the failed tactics of the manager, the club has other issues as well that need to be addressed. When team captain and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer went down with an injury that will sideline him until next year, it quickly became clear that back-up keeper Sven Ulreich was a huge drop-off in talent. This issue should have been addressed earlier, but wasn’t.
Another problem is that some of the club’s older players are on the decline, and the team needs to be transitioning to the next generation of Bayern stars. This responsibility falls at the feet of sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic, and it is possible that he could be fired as well. Once a permanent manager is hired in the future, expect the search for a new sporting director to begin, as well as major changes to be made regarding Bayern’s roster.