When Bayern Munich is in trouble at this time of year, the headlines in Germany write themselves.
And so it was after Bayern fell 1-0 away at Augsburg on the first weekend of this year’s Oktoberfest, their first defeat of the season and their fourth Bundesliga game without a win, solidifying their worst league start in 12 years.
“Less of a party, more like drinking their frustration away,” said broadcaster ZDF, while others played on the theme of Bayern being hungover before even heading to the beer tents of the “Wiesn”, where the Oktoberfest takes place.
Statement Champions League wins may have left the casual international observer with a rather foreboding impression of the German champions but, as chief executive Oliver Kahn told the team in a rare dressing room appearance after Tuesday’s win over Barcelona:
“We would be well advised not to get carried away and sink into euphoria. Such victories are even more valuable when we build on them, and that means beating Augsburg.”
But they didn’t and, as Kicker magazine pointed out on Sunday: “The truth lies in results in the league.” There, by Sunday evening, Bayern were fifth, five points behind leaders Union Berlin.
Nagelsmann, like Carlo Ancelotti in 2017 and Niko Kovac in 2018, is hoping to weather an Oktoberfest storm. Bayern has gone four games without a win for the first time in almost 20 years, and the first time in 87 Bundesliga games that they have failed to score.
Last season, reports in Germany suggested that Nagelsmann’s interpersonal skills were sometimes lacking as he failed to involve experienced dressing room figures in decisions at a time when Bayern failed to win six of their final 11 competitive games, including the two Champions League quarterfinal legs against Villarreal.
That particular situation has reportedly improved but former Bayern captain and German national player Stefan Effenberg still felt inclined on Sunday morning’s Doppelpass talk show on Sport1 to point out:
“When you have such quality in a squad, you don’t need to explain certain runs 10 times; the players know what they have to do. Rather, it’s the interpersonal skills which are most important at Bayern Munich. Nagelsmann is still young, and he needs to learn that.”
On the field, the 35-year-old may be an endless source of enthusiasm, encouragement, directions, and tactical modifications.
But, prior of the Gladbach game, he stated that he saw himself differently this season, “less focused on tactics, more on man-management.”
Still, given that the draw against Gladbach was won with Matthijs De Ligt up front, and that the closest Bayern came to a later equaliser in Augsburg was a Manuel Neuer header from a corner, there’s a case to be made that more work is needed on the tactical shift away from a central striker and toward a more fluid front line.
Bayern is not looking pretty when you look at the Bundesliga standing.
After 7 matches played, Bayern is 5th on the Bundesliga table!