What next for Bayern Munich ahead of Thomas Tuchel's summer exit?


Thomas Tuchel will depart Bayern Munich at the end of this season, a year earlier than the original Bavarian masterplan. 


Admittedly, all has not been rosy in the Bavarian Garden for large chunks of Tuchel’s reign. Tuchel and Bayern (somehow) managed to snatch the Bundesliga title last term for the 11th straight season following Borussia Dortmund’s final-day bottle job. 


On the whole, the rather hasty decision to ditch up-and-coming coach Julian Nagelsmann in favour of Tuchel has not aged well.


Evidently, Tuchel’s man management skills are somewhat flawed and he’s also repeatedly criticised Bayern's transfer dealings, having to make do with what he feels is a rather thin squad. Tuchel’s object of desire was Fulham’s Joao Palhinha. However, the reported €65m deal collapsed at the very last minute on transfer deadline day much to Tuchel’s dismay. 


Of course, this season, Bayern’s "woes" have been highlighted by Xabi Alonso’s all-conquering (so far) Bayer Leverkusen side who reign supreme atop the Bundesliga. Leverkusen have set an impossibly high bar and some perspective is needed. Despite the two most recent league defeats in Leverkusen and Bochum, Bayern’s overall points haul is decent, but it's just not proving good enough this time around. At the same juncture last season, FCB led the Bundesliga standings with four fewer points. In fact, the record champions have reached the 50-point mark at this equivalent stage only once in the last five seasons. 


Further stats in defence of Tuchel: in the Bundesliga’s entire history, there’s only been one second-placed team with more points after 22 matchdays: Dortmund, under Tuchel, garnered one point more in the 2015/16 season. In other words: with a season like Bayern's so far, they wouldn’t normally be languishing in second place. Tuchel and Bayern would be looking good to go back-to-back and win a dirty dozen league titles in a row. 


So where do the perennial German champions go from here? Who succeeds Tuchel and what do Bayern need to do to re-establish themselves as a dominant side in Europe? 


Three straight defeats, currently on their worst run of form since May 2015. 


With no-one like Jupp Heynckes - those were the days - who can be persuaded to bail Bayern out until the end of the season, Bayern will be hoping that with short-term clarity in place, Tuchel retains enough clout in the dressing room to motivate a whole host of unhappy stars. It’s reportedly a divided dressing room with many disgruntled players. He could become the proverbial “lame duck” if results do not turn quickly around.  


As it stands, Bayern are confronted with the possibility of their first trophyless season since coming unstuck up against Jurgen Klopp’s inspired Dortmund side in 2012. Back then Bayern kept the faith with Heynckes for the new season and were rewarded with the treble. But with patience and faith wearing thin, time will run out in the summer for Tuchel. 


Win the Champions League to salvage the campaign 


Ultimately, Tuchel’s final months will be all about how deep he can take his side in the Champions League. After an embarrassing DFB-Pokal second round exit to third division Saarbrucken, that’s where the focus has to be. Trailing eight points behind, Bayern’s title hopes lie in tatters. Leverkusen are within reach of their first ever Bundesliga crown. Though Bayern will not concede the title, unbeaten Leverkusen would need to lose three times and Bayern win all their remaining games. Of course, “Neverkusen” are not historically renowned for winning silverware, but Xabi Alonso’s impressive side look a different beast. 


In early March, FCB seek to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit against Lazio in their "Holy Grail" of the Champions League.  


Despite the current crisis, it would still be a MASSIVE shock if Bayern were not able to turn the Lazio tie around on home soil . But a defeat or draw - just like Nagelsmann encountered against Villarreal in April 2022 - would spell an even speedier exit for Tuchel.



Next coach 


With that in mind, clearly Xabi Alonso, performing miracles at the league leaders, has to be the favourite to take over at Bayern, where he roamed gracefully around midfield for three seasons between 2014 and 2017 before calling time on his playing career. 


Liverpool and Real Madrid are also said to be stalking the much-sought-after 42-year-old who starred in midfield for these two superpowers. Obviously, Bayern will do everything in their power to lure Alonso to the club. Just like Liverpool and Real. It would be unwise to write off Alonso returning to Bayern, despite facing such stiff competition from fellow European heavyweights. Many scoffed when Pep Guardiola was first linked to Bayern, myself included. More recently, many mocked the possibility of England’s beloved captain Harry Kane leaving the Premier League to come to Germany. The record German champions still boast a massive pulling power and can compete with the very best salary - if they want to. 


With that in mind, ladies and gentlemen may we present Zinedine Zidane. Reports have linked legend Zidane to the Bavarian giants. A "close confidant" of Zidane has revealed to German broadcaster SPORT1: "Zinedine views FC Bayern like Real Madrid - an institution as a club with a huge history and fantastic working conditions. Both clubs enjoy many similarities in the way they work. Bayern have always been a subject that Zizou never rejected. Only the France national team, plus Juventus and Bayern, come into consideration for him. 


"Zizou works like a German: goal-orientated, structured and extremely obsessed with details. He would certainly fit in well in that respect. However, if the people in charge in Munich want to get him, they have to give him the sporting power and fulfil his wishes. He is very ambitious and will do everything to succeed. He never leaves anything to chance." 


Unai Emery also should come under serious consideration. Emery will be familiar to the hierarchy having knocked Nagelsmann’s Bayern out of the Champions League in the quarter-final stage with Villareal. The Spaniard is currently doing a brilliant job with fourth-placed Aston Villa in the Premier League.  


Former Chelsea and Tottenham coach Antonio Conte has also thrown his hat into the ring, but it can be strongly assumed that in particular star striker Kane would be "not amused" by the Italian’s appointment. 


Jose Mourinho - remember him? - left Roma recently and has reportedly been learning German for his next stint. Stranger things have happened... 


What about the German candidates? 


Ideally, any future boss should completely identify with the club and its values. Sebastian Hoeness is doing a fantastic job with third placed VfB Stuttgart as the three-time Bundesliga champions push hard for a Champions League spot. The son of former Bayern striker Dieter Hoeness, the 41-year-old is former president and “Mr Bayern” Uli’s nephew. 


2020 treble-winning coach Hansi Flick's stock has fallen markedly since leaving prematurely to take over as Germany coach. 


Any delusions that Jurgen Klopp may come to Bayern’s rescue in the summer have already been quickly shot down. "Jurgen will not coach any club or national team for a year after this current season," said agent Marc Kosicke. 


Bear with me with a slightly left-field call to close. How about a return to Bavaria for Pep Guardiola? With uncertainty clouding Manchester City and those 115 charges, you just never know. 


Certainly, we seem set for a rollercoaster few months at FC Bayern, the club - often in times like these - known in Germany as "FC Hollywood". But with outstanding candidates such as Alonso and Zidane in the frame, Bayern's status as a leading force in European football is not in jeopardy any time soon. The money is there in the bank for any rebuild with the new supremo. And in the bigger picture, Bayern failing to win the Bundesliga will be good for the German league’s health and international appeal. Bring. It. On.

What next for Bayern Munich ahead of Thomas Tuchel's summer exit?