The Ups And Downs Of Bayern Munich

Many say that the most difficult thing is not to become but to stay successful. To say that a club like Bayern couldn’t stay successful seems stupid, 9 league titles in the last 14 seasons are quite an impressive number after all. But, if you compare the financial power of the FCB with the rest of the Bundesliga, the question has to be: Why were they not the best team in more than a third of that era?

Of course there is not the sole reason, many things determine whether or not a season is a successful one. There are external factors that you can hardly influence: Other teams may overachieve or be underestimated (for example the promoted Kaiserslautern that won the title in ’97), other clubs may overspend (for example Dortmund in ’02 that almost collapsed financially just 2 years later) or simply be a young, talented team hungry for success (for example Stuttgart in ’07 or Dortmund this year).

Then there are the internal factors that are almost impossible to foresee: Your coach may ‘lose’ the players, the lack of trust and chemistry can lead to a performance decrease. One of your most important players may be out for a year due to an injury or simply suffer from a lack of form.

The most predictable and controllable factor is the squad itself. Managers should at any time be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of their team. Analyzing your players and then finding a way to fix the problems by replacing individuals with a newly acquired, better (and, from the financial side, probably more expensive) player is one of the most important tasks and even more so since the Bosman ruling that lead to financially potent teams becoming better and better and youth academies often being neglected (a mistake that most teams have realized by now, at least since Barcelona’s success).

Bayern has never neglected its youth academy. But over the last years Uli Hoeneß and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge too often forgot about the other part: addressing the team’s weaknesses. Whether that is because they don’t wanna take unnecessary financial risks or because of (an exaggerated?) loyalty to their current players can’t be answered easily. It’s probably a bit of both.

In a nutshell: This club ignores its squad’s weaknesses way too easily.  True to the motto “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”, they keep the team together just to massively invest in new players when it stops being successful. Let’s take a look at the transfer spend of the last 8 seasons:

The quality is the result of my poor Excel chart skills.

Compare what the club spent with the result of the previous Bundesliga season. Whenever Bayern won the title they hardly spent any money during the upcoming transfer period.

  • 03/04: spent €23m which is a comparably high number when they’re reigning German champion, reason: acquired Roy Makaay who was the main reason that Bayern didn’t survive the Champions League group stage for the first time
  • 04/05: spent €25m because Bremen won the title
  • 05/06: reigning German champion, spent only €4m
  • 06/07: €22m of spending despite won title, reason: transfer of upcoming German superstar Lukas Podolski, a player Bayern had to acquire
  • 07/08: spent €52m because they didn’t even qualify for the Champions League
  • 08/09: didn’t spend any money and sold Marcell Jansen/Jan Schlaudraff
  • 09/10: against spent €52m after Wolfsburg won the title
  • 10/11: only spent €8m as reigning league champion and CL finalist (without the winter acquisition of Luiz Gustavo, they wouldn’t have spent anything once again)

As you can see, transfers are an up and down influenced by nothing but results. Especially the last four years are a perfect example of the FC Bayern procedure:

success -> no changes -> no success -> major changes -> success

Last season’s main weaknesses were no secrets: the shaky defense and the injury-prone wingers. But instead of investing some money to fix those things by acquiring a new left-back, new center backs and new winger backups, absolutely nothing was done. This season will end with neither the cup nor the league title being were, in the eyes of Uli Hoeneß and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, they belong: in Munich.

Bayern fans, say goodbye to some of your players. 2011 transfer market, prepare yourself for some massive spending from Southern Germany.

Editor’s note: This article is not a guarantee that Bayern will win the league title next season. Statistically however it’s an almost safe bet.

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