Leverkusen Missile Crisis

Sensational title, eh? Here it comes–the outlandish claim of a rift between Bayer Leverkusen’s Tandem Trainer Saschimi Lewandyypia (see what I did there?) for the site hits! There’s a battle brewing in the North Rhine-Westphalia that might spell DOOM for Leverkusen’s remaining league campaign! Champions League football will be lost–lost I tell you!–if this is allowed to blister in the strengthening spring sun!

What’s the limit on exclamation points to start a blog post, by the way?

There likely is no Showdown in Pilltown between co-Trainers Sami Hyypia & Sascha Lewandowski following Sami’s comments he sometimes would like to go it alone, but it makes for something to discuss as we near a rather anti-climatic end to the annual Hubcab Hunting season, right? Bayern Munich’s starting XI would have to party nightly with Christoph Daum before a dip in their Rekord-meister  form happened. The end of Borussia Dortmund’s story will not be found within the league but out on Europe’s grandest stages. Schalke’s silliness is certainly entertaining, but it happens so frequently the more shocking story would be of normalcy at the Veltins Arena.

You don’t really want to talk about Hoffenheim getting relegated, do you?

So, back to Bayer 04. Die Werkself have put together a season with which to be pleased and one in marked contrast to last year’s anxiety-riddled Dutt of a campaign. The appointment of co-trainers Sami & Sascha for the last gasps of the 2011-12 season looked a confusingly desperate thought experiment played out in real life. This season, one might have thought it a possible innovation in football management. Might two heads be better than one? Might the tremendous stresses of top flight football management be better handled in tandem, generating both positive & healthy results rather than making Ralf Rangnicks of them all?

Now I’ve reached my limit on question marks in addition to exclamation points I believe.

To summarize, the answers to all those questions should be NO and the clue lies in the title of this post (if you got down this far). During the Cuban Missile Crisis–NOT GETTING POLITICAL SO DON’T GO THERE WITH TELLING ME HOW WRONG THIS IS–those American policymakers assisting President John F. Kennedy in making decisions that avoided major conflict with the U.S.S.R. avoided falling into the trap of Groupthink, the situation this same group of decision-makers found themselves in during the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Now, I’ll not get into a detailed explanation of Groupthink (you lot are smart with the Google search, look it up) but suffice it to say it summarizes key reasons for the faulty high-level decisions made by groups of individuals in any working environment. A primary component found to be at fault is the desire for the group to achieve absolute cohesion–each individual loses his own identity & his ability to think critically–which results in sub-optimal decisions being made.

As an individual loses his/her identity to the identity of the group, specific responsibilities become blurred and eventually lost by the end. To avoid this, the group of decision makers must have clearly defined duties & authority to independently think critically going into the decision-making process. While this does not suggest a hierarchy is involved, it seems one is somewhat implied as the group ultimately reports its findings to one executive for the final decision.

Okay, I’ve gotten too deep into this, time to get back to irreverent & less interesting.

How does this relate to Bayer Leverkusen & Saschimi? Simply this: the duel management system Leverkusen employed at the end of last season and continues through this year has served its purpose beautifully. It was never meant to be a new way of permanent football management but instead one of development. And, if Lewandowski is unsure he wants to continue with this shared management system as it currently exists, he has indeed fallen victim to Groupthink and lost the plot.

Last year, Hyypia was unsure if he wanted to get into management, so Bayer 04 bring him along with Security Blanket Sascha–the club’s youth coach–to steady his nerves. As this season has progressed, Sami has become more comfortable in the role as Trainer, more confident being the person ultimately held accountable for club failures and successes. Given his higher public profile heading into this situation–from his days playing in English football with Liverpool and his seasons stationed along Leverkusen’s back line–Hyypia was always going to receive more of the attention in this co-trainership. Lewandowski’s presence simply allowed Hyypia to grow into the role more comfortably.

Apparently, though, as this situation has remained, it has confused Lewandowski, causing him to lose his own identity and role in this arrangement. He has chosen to assume the identity of the “Trainer” although this identity is a group one at the present rather than one he truly owns. I hate to say it, but an individual who has spent most of his coaching career at the youth rather than senior level likely has some quirk that prevents him from being successful in senior squad management. Perhaps Sascha has forgotten this; otherwise, he likely would have never said a word after Sami mentioned he wanted to take both sets of reins.

Ah ha! There’s the outlandish claim! This was all designed to bring Hyypia around to being the full Trainer on his own! There really is no battle of wills! Sami will eventually be named the full Trainer as expected while Sascha either goes back to the youth/reserve squad or departs the club! Wait, that’s not so outlandish…

In short, there is no missile crisis in Pilltown. There will be one new trainer for next season, though. He’ll just look a lot like Sami Hyypia and less like Sascha Lewandowski.

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