How Jupp Heynckes has revitalised Bayern Munich
It’s fair to say that October has been a good month for Bayern Munich fans. Persuading 72-year-old Jupp Heynckes out of retirement after a poor start to the season, the Bundesliga club once again find themselves at the summit.
Having thrown away two-goal leads in two consecutive fixtures against VfL Wolfsburg and Hertha BSC, Carlo Ancelotti was dismissed from the club with the future over who would take charge up in the air.
Both Thomas Tuchel and Julian Nagelsmann had been linked heavily, but it was the former head coach and fan favourite Heynckes that took charge. Leaving the club in 2013, his last season in management resulted in a treble haul and 91 points in the Bundesliga with a +80 goal difference.
Under Ancelotti, the team really lacked chemistry in the early stages of the 2017/18 campaign. It’s as though the Italian tactician didn’t know his best team while his mismanagement of Thomas Muller and summer signing James Rodriguez probably played a factor.
So, in came Heynckes. Switching from Ancelotti’s 4-3-3 to his favoured 4-2-3-1, Bayern Munich already look a better side. Yet to concede in the Bundesliga under the German this season, Bayern have managed eight goals in just three games since his return – coming against SC Freiburg, Hamburger SV and RB Leipzig.
Favoured as a centre-back by both Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola, Heynckes moved Javi Martinez back into midfield and this has improved the stability of the current Bayern Munich side, with either Corentin Tolisso or Arturo Vidal playing alongside him in a double-pivot. When called upon, Sebastian Rudy has also contributed a great deal to this Bayern team.
Robert Lewandowski looks a much happier player while Arjen Robben is playing at his best once again, replicating the form when he previously played under Heynckes.
The Netherlands international was one of those players that criticised Ancelotti’s training methods, suggest that: “There’s better training at my son’s youth team [than under Ancelotti],” as reported by Kicker.
As previously mentioned, Ancelotti didn't get the best out of Rodriguez while many suggest that the Italian didn’t know what his best position was. Early signs showed a lot of promise but ultimately, he hadn’t hit expectations that many had set for him.
The Colombia international does however, look a lot more like the player he was at Real Madrid. Starting out in the left flank against RB Leipzig on Saturday evening, Rodriguez ran the game, showing his fluidness to roam around the pitch and composure to find the net.
So much so that Heynckes was impressed with the creativity of the 26-year-old, praising his performance against their Bundesliga rivals on Saturday.
“He had a great game. He had a lot of touches and showed he has a lot of creativity when it comes to playing football. But I'm a coach who always wants more and we'll put in some more work, not only with him, but with the entire team,” said Heynckes.
But what happens going forward for Heynckes and Bayern Munich? He only has a deal until the end of the season, but there’s nothing to say that he could stop on – and ultimately, the fans won’t be disappointed if he chose to do so – before paving the way for what will probably be Nagelsmann.
They’re currently sitting top of the Bundesliga after Borussia Dortmund succumbed to a 4-2 defeat against Hannover 96 while they’re currently sitting second in their Champions League group that also features Paris Saint-Germain.
Barring a miracle from Celtic or Anderlecht, they should qualify for the knockout stages.
Get through their last 16 DFB Pokal tie against Borussia Dortmund and they could well be looking at the domestic double should Heynckes be able to keep their current form up.
There’s one thing for sure in this Bayern Munich team and that is that they seem to have a lot more fight in them under Heynckes – certainly more shown than that under Ancelotti, who seemed to have lost the dressing room.