It wasn’t quite the white smoke emanating from the chimney of the Sistene Chapel when the papal conclave elect the new pope, but for fans of Bayern Munich, the announcement that Jupp Heynckes will succeed Carlo Ancelotti as head coach until the end of the season has come as just a moment of excitement.
Nine days after parting company with Ancelotti and despite being linked with both Thomas Tuchel and Julian Nagelsmann, Bayern have turned back the clock and persuaded the 72-year-old to come out of retirement to take control until the end of the season.
Clearly a short-term solution, but one which reeks of sentiment and a real need for the club to get back some of its lost sense of ‘Mia san Mia’. Treble winning coach Heynckes’ stock at the club could not be any higher and you would be hard-pushed to find many Bayern fans who haven’t had a pang of joy at his appointment.
For much of the interim period since the club took the decision to fire Ancelotti straight after the Champions League defeat to Paris St Germain, the only names really in the frame were Tuchel and Nagelsmann.
Tuchel is said to have been Karl-Heinz Rummenigge’s first choice due to his tactical acumen and the fact that he would perhaps bring the club closer to the way things were under Pep Guardiola (a self-confessed fan of the former Dortmund trainer). However, during preliminary discussions Uli Hoeness was unconvinced and it cannot be ruled out that the Bayern boss had a word with Tuchel’s former employers Hans-Joachim Watzke and Michael Zorc at BVB.
Nagelsmann, at 30-years-old is seen as the natural choice for Bayern and his roots in Bavaria make him an ideal choice, but experience counts against him. It was inconceivable that Hoffenheim would release him mid-season, but it will now be increasingly speculated that Bayern will move for him next summer.
So Heynckes returns to Bayern for a fourth spell having lead the club between 1987-91, in 2009 on an interim basis following the dismissal of Jürgen Klinsmann and between 2011 and 2013 when he won the historic treble.
“There’s a great mutual trust between Jupp Heynckes and FC Bayern. That showed itself again in the conversations that Uli Hoeneß, Hasan Salihamidžić and I have had with him. We’re very thankful to Jupp that he’s accepted the offer of head coach. He’s the ideal coach for FC Bayern at this moment in time,” said Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić added: “Jupp Heynckes is a master of man management and tactics. We’re convinced he’s exactly the right man to get the team back on track and achieve our aims.”
Some will question the wisdom of appointing a 72-year-old, who has been out of the game for four years and will look to the examples being set by both Hoffenheim and Schalke who have gone for youth. Having said that, similar concerns were levelled at Heynckes when he took over last time and he delivered the Bundesliga, the DFB Pokal and the Champions League. So maybe experience does trump enthusiasm.
“I wouldn’t have returned to any other club in the world, but FC Bayern München are very close to my heart. My coaching staff and I will now do everything to bring back successful football for the fans. I’m very much looking forward to this challenge.”
That challenge sees a first home match with Freiburg before a Champions League clash with Celtic. The real test comes when Bayern face RB Leipzig in both the league and cup, Celtic away and then Borussia Dortmund away in successive fixtures. The current gap between Dortmund and Bayern is five points.
Only time will tell whether Uli Hoeness has once again pulled off a masterstroke and whether the wily old fox Jupp Heynckes can once again work his magic at the Allianz Arena.
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