The non-answer from Arjen Robben spoke more than a thousand words last night following Bayern Munich’s 3-0 loss to Paris St Germain in the Champions League. When asked by a reporter whether the players were behind their coach, the Dutch winger replied, “I won’t answer this question. I will say nothing about it. Every word in this case would be one too many.”
Cryptic? Evasive? Well that doesn’t really matter now that Bayern have taken the decision to relieve Ancelotti of his duties at the Allianz Arena. Having succeeded triple Bundesliga winning coach Pep Guardiola, the Italian won the title in his first season, but all has not been well in Bavaria at the start of the campaign and the coach has ultimately paid the price.
Last night at the Parc des Princes, a lot was made pre-match about the dysfunctionality within the PSG ranks with Neymar and Edinson Cavani seemingly at each other’s throats, but it was Bayern who showed there were deeper problems to worry about.
Ancelotti chose to leave Mats Hummels, Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben on the bench, while Jerome Boateng didn’t even make the matchday squad. “I thought a lot to try to put out the best line-up,” he said afterwards. “I am going to have criticism for this but it is no problem. I’m still convinced it was a good line up but the situation of the game was against us.”
Criticism? How about the sack?
“Our team’s performances since the start of the season have not met our expectations. The match in Paris clearly showed we had to take immediate action. Hasan Salihamidžić and I met Carlo today for full and frank discussions where we informed him of our decision,” commented FC Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
“I’d like to thank Carlo for his time working with us and I’m sorry about the way it has developed.”
This parting of the ways is however about more than just defeat to the Parisian billionaires. Yes Ancelotti is the fall guy, but others at the club are going to have to take a long, hard look at themselves following (by Bayern standards) a poor start to the season.
A 2-0 defeat at Hoffenheim and a 2-2 draw last time out against VfL Wolfsburg were very un-Bayern, but the manor and scale of the defeat to PSG has brought into sharp focus just how far behind Bayern are in their quest to match the likes of Real Madrid, PSG and Barcelona on the European stage.
Last season’s Bundesliga triumph was a stroll for Bayern, but that covered up somewhat the need for the club to act in the summer and accusing eyes have to be glanced the way of bosses Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness.
Yes the club invested a club record €41.5 million in French midfielder Corentin Tolisso and also brought in Galactico James Rodriguez from Real Madrid, but they didn’t really address some of the problem areas.
Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry remain the side’s most potent attacking weapons, but were both left on the bench for the PSG clash. The club have not adequately planned for their long-term replacement with Douglas Costa lasting just one season and Kingsley Coman showing flair but little end product. Renato Sanches lasted just one season, and there really is not a like-for-like back-up for either Manuel Neuer (currently out injured) or Robert Lewandowski (god forbid if he were to get injured).
The overloading of midfield talent has meant keeping everyone happy has been a thankless task with Thomas Müller a high-profile casualty of this.
Carlo Ancelotti was the ideal man to step in and steer the Bayern ship post-Guardiola, but he didn’t really have the opportunity to stamp his brand on Bayern. The signings of Niklas Süle and Sebastian Rudy were the first moves at refreshing the squad, but there is more to be done.
— Carlo Ancelotti (@MrAncelotti) September 28, 2017
‘Veni, vidi, vici’. Carlo, he came, he saw, he conquered, but then paid the price for (let’s be honest) not being a Guardiola and like Julius Caesar was ultimately and metaphorically stabbed in the back by those he trusted.
Who follows him is a whole can of worms destined for another article but be prepared to read the name Julian Nagelsmann and Thomas Tuchel an awful lot in the coming days and weeks.