The managerial merry-go-round in Europe: What we learned from Bayern Munich and Jupp Heynckes

Jupp Heynckes gave Bayern their best season yet

Jupp Heynckes gave Bayern their best season yet

by Oluwanifemi

Bayern Munich have won a much deserved treble under their brilliant ex-coach, Jupp Heyneckes, the man who broke the invincibility of Barcelona and excited Europe and the world in general with his tactical abilities and meticulous planning. A man who has broken all available records in one season, a man that we will all continue to talk about for years to come. A true legend of the Bundesliga and the round leather game at large.

But, this same coach saw his Bayern side finish runners-up in all three major competitions last season. Including a memorable Champions league final that was played on the Bavarians’ home soil, the Allainz Arena. It was an heart-breaking conundrum considering that Bayern had defeated Jose Mourinho’s highly favoured Madrid side  in the semi-finals and in the finals Bayern glaringly controlled proceedings and looked the better side. They’d even scored in 83rd minute and looked set to wrap it all up before a certain Didier Drogba popped up from nowhere and made things complicated. That’s history anyway, for Heynckes came back better last season and wowed everyone.

But would this have been possible if Uli Hoeness and the Bayern supremos had not decided to stick with Osram and give him another season? Would Bayern have been stable enough under a different coach to perform the extraordinary feats they did last season? When coaches fail, should they be allowed to work on nonetheless, or should they be ruthlessly fired? Roberto Di Matteo, the coach that guided Chelsea to UCL title in 2012 was fired in the 2013 season because he lost some games, a club legend, who had won the double the previous season. And the man that lost to Di Matteo’s Chelsea side,in his very own backyard was never touched. Stability or faith? So, Chelsea moved to replace RDM with someone that has more experience in Europe, the Candidate: Rafa Benitez, a hated figure and when he took over from RDM,Chelsea were only four points behind Manchester United,competing for five trophies and seemingly stable. But in the end,Chelsea slipped to nineteen points behind United, travelled all the way to Asia only to lose the Club World Cup and were embroiled in controversy for most of the 2012-2013 campaign.

Roberto Mancini lost, was fired from the blue half of Manchester and the ruthlessness continues in Italy today. Andrea Stramaccioni, Inter’s young coach has been fired, replaced by Walter Mazzari, the coach that took Napoli into second place on the Serie A table for the 2012-2013 season. Even Massimiliano Allegri who wonderfully overturned a turbulent campaign to finish third was threatened before Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani decided to extend his contract. Pescara fired coaches with reckless abandon, Roma fired Zeman then Aurelio Andreazzoli. The list goes on.

But, we all agree that Manchester United have won so much for three reasons. They have money, they had a great coach in Sir Alex Ferguson, but more importantly, they’ve had stablility in having the same coach year-in-year-out. He did lose in the UCL final against Barcelona, twice within a space of two years and nobody threatened his job. At Chelsea, Madrid, Inter or City, he would be long gone. So, the fact that a coach loses some matches (even if it’s a cup final) doesn’t mean that he’s not tactically sound. A host of factors might be responsible, the conditions might not be right (which explains why a coach will shine at a club and flounder at another), injury to players, adaptation problems, environment and language barriers are reasons why a coach might not get it right. But, it’s generally agreed that every season, every loss, every win, every whitewash, every trophy and every tactical error/breakthrough is vital to the learning point of every coach and this, rather than weaken them, usually makes them better (at least for the brilliant ones).

For example, Jupp Heynckes first managed Bayern from 1987-1991, he won two Bundesliga titles (1988-1989 and 1989-1990)and under him, Bayern reached the semi-finals of the 1988-1989 UEFA Cup, the 1989-1990 European Cup and the 1990-1991 European Cup, though, it happened that on all three occassions, they were knocked out by the side that went on to win the three trophies. He was fired in October 1991 after winning just four out of his first tewlve matches of the 1991-1992 season, he went on to coach Athletic Bilbao, then Eintracht Frankfurt and at Frankfurt he clashed with Anthony Yeboah, Jay Jay Okocha and Maurizio Gaudino prompting his departure. He then went to Tenerife, arrived as Real Madrid coach in 2007, won  the 1998-1999 UEFA Champions League with Madrid after defeating Juventus 1-0 in the final, then moved to Benfica, and back to Athletico Bilbao, then Schalke 04, then back to Borussia Monchengladbach (where he was a legend as a player). He left Gladbach after playing fourteen consecutive games without a win. On departing, he refused a pay off and returned the company car to the club office, freshly cleaned and with a full tank of petrol.

In April 2009, he came out of retirement at the age of 65 to take over as caretaker coach after Jurgen Klinsmann was fired. He became Bayer Leverkusen coach in June 2009, finishing fourth in the Bundesliga in his maiden season, and second the following season. Then, on 25 March 2011, he began his third and most successful Bayern spell, replacing Louis van Gaal (who had lost to Jose Mourinho’s Inter side in the 2010 UCL final in Rome). In 2012, Die Roten finished runners up in three major competitions. Die Schwarzegelben took the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal and Chelsea took the UEFA Champions league but Bayern kept faith in Heynckes and in 2013 he won back all three trophies that he’d lost the previous season, becoming only the fourth Manager to win the UCL with two different clubs after Ernst Happel, Ottmar Hitzfield and Jose Mourinho. Heynckes wrapped the 2013 season with the record of the most points in a season in the Bundesliga (91), highest league winning margin in the Bundesliga (25), the most Bundesliga wins in a season (29), the longest Bundesliga  winning streak in a season (14), most Bundesliga cleans sheets in a season (21), the best Bundesliga goal difference in a season (+80), the least goals conceeded in a Bundesliga season (18) and his Bayern side scored in every match of the campaign and lost only once and became the only German team to ever win the treble of the UCL, Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal.

On June 4th 2013, Osram announced that he won’t be coaching another club in the 2013-2014 season. A legend indeed but as we can all see it wasn’t smooth sailing for him, though he learned at every curve and he got better until he was too good even for the all conquering Blaugrana, the champions of Spain. Yet Bayern wouldn’t have been able to reach this heights if he’d been sacked this season, and they reaped the rewards for their faith in getting their best season of all times, one that the whole world will never forget for a long time to come.

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Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea Return: Back to drab, defensive patterns or exciting attacking football?

Will Mourinho's second coming make Chelsea better?

Will Mourinho’s second coming make Chelsea better?

by Oluwanifemi

Jose Mourinho, the exciting, controversial but generally successful self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ has finally returned to Chelsea and English football. And while there are celebrations and tributes coming from all across Europe, there’s a question that has to be asked, given that this might eventually define his second stint at Chelsea. The general question is: What kind of play pattern will Jose employ at Chelsea this time?

It is no longer news that Jose doesn’t like to lose. He, therefore, employs all possible antics to see to this. Mind games, defensive plays and anything else that can help him win a game. He has a propensity to attract controversy, he’s unequivocal, brass and represents different things to different people. In his first spell at Chelsea, he built a brutal, direct, winning machine that concede as less as possible, arguably because the Chelsea team of 2004 don’t play much attacking football.

Today, the tide has changed. Roman Abramovich, the Russian oligarch that owns Chelsea has asked for an attacking style of football, something sexier and the quest for this has led to the recruitment of the triumvirate of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar. They’ve been brought into the side to breathe some excitement into how the side plays and help them attack more. Last season being their first, they flourished and the whole of Europe is already talking about how deadly the trio could become playing together, complementing each other.

However, with Jose’s arrival, many fans of the round leather game are already at loss as to what might happen. It is rumoured that the trio are not the kind of players Mourinho likes and that he might try to break the triumvirate in order to bring in more powerful, defence-conscious midfielders as replacements. And while some say the Chelsea hierarchy has already told him that he’d have to play with the trio, it seems logical to say we would just have to wait and see.

Now, attacking football has a downside, it requires balance or the team in question will ship in goals with reckless abandon like Manchester United in the past few seasons. Mourinho knows he’d most likely not find this balance in his first season and might want to get results anyhow, thereby resorting to a defensive approach against attack-minded oppositions. To Chelsea fans, this might be unacceptable but, let’s wait and see what concessions they’d eventually be willing to make as they aspire to continue winning every year (ask Arsenal fans about that).

To neutrals, Jose hasn’t changed, but to Chelsea fans, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that their brilliant, record-breaking coach has returned. And though the Premier League is different from 2004 and Mourinho wouldn’t expect a roller-coaster ride this time. He’d nonetheless have some measure of success based on what came of  his last job at Madrid. For, more than anything, Jose now has to prove to the world yet again, that he is indeed the ‘Special One’ yet again.

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Re: End of an Era

As a reply to this post I put up some time ago, my very good friend, Oluwanifemi, has decided to send in his opinion. It’s all about what seems to be the dying embers of Barca’s dominance. Agree or disagree, he’s got his points. Read and comment. Thanks!

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Okay, so you think Barca should be given another season to prove their brilliance? I think they were always destined to be disgraced in Europe someday. So, Bayern beating them is not a ruse, it’s rather an eye opener and more of it is on the way if Barcelona don’t do something fast.

You’d agree that matches are won based on the brilliance and capability of a coach. What tactical methods you employ, your ability to evaluate the defensive and attacking strength and weaknesses of your opponent measured against your ability to curb or stifle any attack as well as your ability to exploit inconsistencies or inabilities in their defence. Your tactical abilities therefore, might go a long way in demoralizing, exposing, demolishing and exemplifying your opponent (of course you would never consider refereeing errors and this has happened to decide some matches much to the chagrin of the aggrieved teams,you hear it everyday, Webb has come again and so on.)

In other words, success or failure is measured by how effectively you can study and understand your opponents (barring luck and unforeseen mishaps). Also, every team is built according to the ideals of the manager and it is by virtue of this that coaches either become legends or colossal failures. Take for instance Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea team of 2004-2006. Then, he built a direct, brutal, winning machine relying on the strength of a brilliant defence and an equally magnificent goalkeeper. Remember also his Inter treble winning team of 2010, a team anchored on the strength of tri-quartista Thiago Motta and Wesley Sneijder, a team that trumped Barca in the semis before going on to win the finale in Rome, records were broken, the seemingly impossible was done. I can go on giving examples.

Barca, on the other hand, are built solely on Messi. I admit that he’s an exemplary player, a true legend and a god of the round leather game, but have you noticed that they tend to lose or misfire whenever he’s not there to motivate his team mates, like in the Quarters finals of this year’s UCL against Paris Saint Germain. Now, all the top clubs in Europe know this and all they have to do is keep the magician at bay and Barca is lost. Chelsea did it in the semi finals last year and while Chelsea’s feat might border somewhat on luck and negative football, you saw what Bayern Munich did to Barca last season, all because Messi and Xavi were harried all over the pitch and kept under control throughout the match,Barca lost their invincibility and were demoralized thoroughly.

At this time, I think it’s fitting to say it’s only the Mallorcas and the Zaragozas of Europe that will continue losing to Barca, the heavyweights in Europe now know how to rubbish Barca’s so-called brilliance (count Manchester United and Arsenal out of course) and unless someone is brought in to lighten the responsibility placed on Messi, and therefore create the possibility of switching to another game plan whenever Messi’s stifled or better still become a joker (a secret weapon), Barcelona will continue to suffer at the hands of the elite teams in Europe.

A few days ago though,a new Brazilian god was announced and unveiled at Camp Nou. He’s to lighten the responsibilities on Messi and complement the four times Ballon d’or winner, they said. The man, Neymar, someone who at 21 has performed amazing feats at Santos (another one man team). It remains to be seen how well he’d do at Barca though, because, inspite of all the hype and the noise, Europe is never and will never be like Latin America.

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Thank you, Oluwanifemi.

By the way, he’s also offered to send in some more sports analysis soon, so expect a little bit of consistency from Issues and Tissues! Yay!

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Do-or-Die Affair

Questionable relationships won't work

Questionable relationships won’t work

This post is from an a.e. called NiceGuy. If you don’t know what an a.e. is, please don’t bother asking. Ok, moving on, he just wanted to address a relationship issue and I decided to provide the outlet. Read, enjoy and comment!

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Well, I’m who I am… A nice guy! Yes, my girls, (ex’s and all) know that, so it’s not just me saying it. Anyway, this piece isn’t really about me. It’s about some people’s disturbing views about relationships. I just don’t know where to start.

First off, I’m the kind of guy that loves deeply. I respect my ladies and expect them to reciprocate. I do my best to stay faithful (which is kinda easy as I do not believe I can handle multiple partners.) In fact, I try to stay away from sex in my relationships (which is easier said than done.) With this sort of attitude to relationships, it’s easy to form a do-or-die mindset since you’re giving everything you feel is right for the relationship and you expect nothing less. From experience (not personal, mind you), however, it’s guys like this that get dumped most often by the ladies.

Now, I’m someone who believes that there’s nothing like ‘just one person for you’. In essence, when any of my relationships fail, I know I’ve given everything to make it work so I just dust myself up and open up to another. It’s been a difficult experience so far but it’s also been rewarding in some areas. I don’t believe sleeping with a lady makes you a superstar so I don’t actually feel bad about nothing going the whole way with her before the relationship ended. In fact, with my fear of the (sorta) spiritual bonding sex creates between lovers, I’m always thankful I didn’t go there. So you can imagine how absurd it sounds to me when a guy wants to date a girl by all means necessary.

How on earth will someone believe that if he/she doesn’t date one person the world must end? Then it gets worse when the person you’re actually chasing up and down is in a solid relationship already. This situation can be viewed from many different angles.

In a relationship, I believe that both of you have to somehow fight for the relationship. There will be issues, problems, temptations and times when you just want to end it, but the strongest relationships endure all these. As much as I don’t believe in the do-or-die mentality, I believe you have to fight for what you believe is yours ‘to a reasonable extent’! Imagine a relationship where there was a serious issue and one of both parties decides the relationship cannot go on. It’s up to the partner to try to get the other back. If the leaving partner is bent on ending it even after various persuasions from the pleading partner, then it may be time to let it go, no matter how hard. If the love is strong enough, it shouldn’t take too long for a leaving partner to have a change of heart.

Like I always say, relationships can never be a one-way street, otherwise it won’t work. Both partners have to share everything within it, especially the love and emotions. Now, when you’re trying to ‘catch’ this girl after you feel there’s so much ‘green light’, and she balks, then there’s room for persistence, especially if she’s single. Putting in a little pressure and perseverance is ok as ladies like to feel wanted most times before giving in. It’s acceptable only for a period of time and that duration can only be determined by common sense (which is quite scarce.) If she keeps blocking you, then it’s reasonable to move on with your life.

But in cases where the lady hints at you that she’s already in a relationship, the rational thing is to leave her be! Except you’re thinking of entering into a ‘three-way’ which won’t happen in this part of the world. Why would you really want to force yourself on a girl who keeps telling you she’s in love with someone else? No matter what you think you have for her, it’s not love if you keep insisting on having her. Life’s not fair and you can’t always have what you want. But then, she’s never going to be ‘the only one’ for you. Best move on with your life and open up to other opportunities. There’s no point making both your lives miserable!

No matter what commitment you think you’ve made into the life of another, it doesn’t make you own them, if not, you would also be a ‘life-slave’ to someone else. I think we can do with a little bit of rationality and common sense in the world today. Open your eyes and see a better future ahead of you, not tied to any one person but to a series of associations and relations with many different people. It’s time we do things the right way, starting with how we think of our relationships with people.

This is just how I see the issue discussed. Comments are welcome.

Thanks Seryx! Out!!

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There you have it! Always welcome, NiceGuy! Bye y’all. Till when next we show up.

Signing Out!

Find a balance between the rational and the emotional

Find a balance between the rational and the emotional

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