Friday, February 28, 2014

Bayern Munich: What's down is up

While listening to the lastest ESPNFC podcast, Iain Macintosh threw in an interesting posit on German football that deserves some investigation.

His theory, which is his, was that Bayern Munich win a few Bundesliga titles in a row, are unseated and then use this opportunity to reimagine themselves as a bigger and better club. Furthermore, he thought this provided hope for 2015 and beyond to shrewd local clubs with great youth development.

Taking a quick look at the list of German league champions reveals the basic mechanics of his dictum are correct: Bayern have won the league eleven of the past twenty seasons and look certain to do so again in 2014. Their longest title stretch spanned the three years from 1999 to 2001.

The flip side of this theory is that despite making the Champions’ League final in 2012 and winning it in 2013, this has actually already occurred and this is the more powerful incarnation of Bayern intimated by Macintosh.

Bayern’s past re-envisionings have come in the face of slip-ups (coughKlinsmanncough) or the local competition advancing their players or tactics beyond them. Looking back over seasons 2012-14, we can suggest playmaking and personnel developments at Borussia Dortmund was responsible for their title victories – meaning Bayern Munich’s success in the One Competition to Rule Them All actually occurred during some of their “down” years.

The logical progression from that position is that Pep Guardiola is actually not involved in the finishing steps of a rebuild, but the earlier ones.

The greater revenue brought about by Champions League success and the increasing importance of globalizing a club’s brand allows a club having a less successful local year (in which they proceed deep into European competition) to repopulate themselves with the likes of Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski. Such a large difference – such as a 4:1 spending difference over the past four years between the best two clubs in the nation – is increasingly hard to bridge with tactical and developmental innovation.

Macintosh’s dictum is a true statement. However when applied to the 2013-14 Bundesliga, it is less a statement of potential future challenges than a monochromatic commentary on the future of the Bundesliga.

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