AFTER waltzing to a fifth consecutive Bundesliga title last season, Bayern Munich were once again expected to dominate the domestic scene in Germany while manager Carlo Ancelotti, hired for his continental expertise, was tasked with making the Bavarians champions of Europe for the sixth time.
But six games into the new Bundesliga season, Bayern sit uncomfortably in third place, three points adrift of leaders Borussia Dortmund, having dropped points in matches they’d expect to win against Hoffenheim and Wolfsburg.
After a 3-0 thumping at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain last night, Ancelotti has been given his marching orders.
Our friends at Football Whispers examine what went wrong for the former Chelsea manager at Bayern.
The meeting at the Parc des Princes between the German champions and big-spending PSG was billed as a contest between two genuine Champions League contenders, offering the winner the chance to reassert their status among the European elite.
Both teams are packed with world-class attacking talent and a tight affair was anticipated.
However, the Parisians, powered by 18-year-old superstar Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Edinson Cavani, routed their Bundesliga visitors 3-0.
The resounding defeat has sent a shockwave through Bayern, who were already looking a pale imitation of the side that has dominated German football for the last five years.
Club executives met today to discuss whether Ancelotti should remain manager and subsequently decided to part ways with the experienced coach.
There is a sense that perhaps Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola was taken for granted somewhat during his Allianz Arena reign, and that being unable to deliver Champions League glory clouded how his time in charge of the Bundesliga top dogs has been remembered.
The Catalan tactician brought intensity, clearly-defined individual instructions and a possession-based approach.
His training sessions were focussed and instructive.
Ancelotti’s approach differed greatly.
The former PSG and AC Milan manager is much more relaxed in his demeanour, and his personality is reflected in his training methods.
For the Bayern players, who had become accustomed to intense practise sessions, this was a shock to the system and reportedly a bone of contention for the squad.
There was discontent brewing within the Bayern first team.
Some senior members of the squad dropped less-than-subtle hints that all was not well within the Munich changing room.
After the defeat to PSG, Dutch winger Arjen Robben was asked whether the players were behind Ancelotti and supported him as coach.
“I won’t answer this question,” the former Real Madrid man replied.
Long-time Manchester United transfer target Thomas Muller, seen by many as Mr Bayern and a Bavarian product of the club’s youth system, expressed misgivings with the manager.
The World Cup winner felt he was not being properly utilised by the Italian coach and was undervalued.
In addition to the fallout with Ancelotti, star striker Robert Lewandowski has spoken of his dissatisfaction at the club’s summer spending.
Bayern broke their transfer record to sign Corentin Tolisso from Lyon, snagged Niklas Sule and Sebastian Rudy from Hoffenheim and took James Rodriguez on loan from Real Madrid.
But Lewandowski clearly feels Bayern should be aiming higher in their recruitment strategy.
“Bayern has to come up with something new and creative,” he told Der Spiegel in September.
“If the club wants to keep luring world class players to Munich, and if you want to keep up at the very highest level, you need these players’ quality.”
Bayern’s form is far from disastrous at this point,
They remain well within reach of Dortmund in the Bundesliga and will be strong favourites to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages along with PSG.
But their current average of 2.16 points and 2.33 goals per game is lower than in any of Guardiola’s three seasons in Munich.
And when the players become dissatisfied, the manager usually pays with his job.
Bayern tend to hold out until the offseason to make any such changes, but they clearly felt there was no way back for Ancelotti.