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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