Few trophies will be added to Carlo Ancelotti’s impressive record as a coach this season. Only winning the league championship in his first year in charge of Bayern Munich is nothing to really excite the club that is used to greater things.
After the 3-2 cup semifinal defeat, the Italian’s work is regarded to be a big disappointment and the 57-year old will soon be confronted with some unpleasant questions.
After having already won the Champions League three times, expectations were high upon the coach’s arrival. Now elimination in the quarter-finals of Europe’s premier club competition and the failure to complete the domestic cup and league double will mean that club officials will be examining the squad and the coach.
In their last four Bundesliga games, Bayern will have to clinch the minimum goal of winning the German championship. Borussia Dortmund on the other hand have a cup final against Eintracht Frankfurt in Berlin on May 27th to look forward to. Dortmund is the first club in German cup history to reach the final four times in succession.
The most likely consequence of the failure in Munich will be an influx of new world class players such as Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) and Paulo Dybala (Juventus Turin) and others. The average age of Bayern’s team against Madrid and Dortmund was over 30 years.
Experienced but aged key figures like team captain Philipp Lahm and Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso will retire in a few weeks and will have to be replaced. As Bayern is economically one of the healthiest clubs in professional football, major investment won’t be a problem. Building a new team will be the challenge as this season delivered far too many disappointments.
Ancelotti will be asked to explain why he neglected younger talents such as Kinsley Coman, Douglas Costa, Joshua Kimmich and the experienced Thomas Mueller, who scored 32 goals in 49 games in the 2015/16 season. Many now expect that Ancelotti will be forced by the club leaders to consider the return of Mueller into the starting eleven in the near future.
As for Costa, Bayern doubts whether the Brazilian can step up to the needed next step to satisfy high demands. Coman was, like Kimmich and Mueller, on the substitute’s bench most of the time and was unable to produce the goods on the pitch.
At the center of the “investigations” will be Ancelotti’s style of coaching, his teams as well as his tactics. As the successor of the disciplinarian Pep Guardiola, Ancelotti is accused to have given too much freedom to his players on and off the pitch. Many in the club also accuse him of only having continued the same performance level and to not have provided much inspiration.
As Ancelotti constantly counted on the older players there was little competition amongst the small squad for a place in the starting eleven. It might be one reason why Bayern will most likely enlarge playing staff and bring in more stars.
When keeper Manuel Neuer, defenders Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng and Lewandowski were not fully fit, Ancelotti did not give them a break and substitute them with younger players. Football pundits said it was evidence of his mistrust of the youngsters.
When the club leaders such as CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and president Uli Hoeness talked to Ancelotti a few months ago about the outcome of the season, the Italian calmed down the club’s concern about his strategy. Now Ancelotti finds himself in a bad position as he has to admit things did not work out the way he intended.
The defeats against Real and Dortmund clearly proved that Bayern needs more options in their attacking game as so far there was an adequate replacement for center forward Lewandowski and the wingers Ribery and Robben. Ancelotti might have to consider changing his tactical approach as he mostly counted on a 4-2-3-1 system. En vogue is the ability to play different tactical games and find solutions when other teams change the way they play, like Dortmund.
But not only Ancelotti will have to rethink his plans but the club leaders as well. Until now Rummenigge and Hoeness have ruled out that the club will sign additional stars. Instead they wanted to intensify the development of young talents. Investing many millions of Euro’s in youth development must deliver players president Hoeness said recently.
The only way to put the club back on track is to do both, buy stars and develop talented youngsters. But first Carlo Ancelotti has questions to answer. After all his team has not been able to win the last five games and finds itself in the middle of a crisis.