It may have “only” been FC Viktoria Plzeň, but Bayern Munich are in a good mood once again — sitting on a comfortable nine points in the Champions League group of death, and heading into Der Klassiker weekend having notched a commanding 4-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen the week prior. All those questions surrounding Julian Nagelsmann? You can lay them to rest now, if you haven’t done so already.
There’s politely-worded PR statements of confidence in times of tumult, often shortly precipitating a coach’s firing, and there’s a wholesale backing. The latter is what the Bayern brass have been emphasizing again and again with the manager they broke transfer fee records to acquire, and having passed the latest test, they’re happy to remind.
“We’re completely convinced of Julian,” said Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn after the Plzeň triumph, as captured by @iMiaSanMia. “Of course it was clear to us that there could be difficult phases, but Julian learns very fast and has great qualities. We all believe in him.”
Perhaps the most analogous situation in European football is that of Arsenal FC — where a young, even less experienced manager than Nagelsmann in Mikel Arteta received total backing from the club’s board, through incomprehensible lows — and the board, to the disbelief of many, never wavered. They stuck with it until it was clear they really did mean it, and Arsenal are enjoying life now at the top of the Premier League.
Nagelsmann has been a coach before, but Bayern is the big time compared to his previous stops — statements like these make clear that the club don’t expect him merely to learn, success or fail, on his own, but are all in to help ensure it happens. It’s the productive sort of partnership that should lay the foundation for a stable future.
As a bonus? At Bayern, Nagelsmann didn’t have to endure lousy seasons, missing out on even Europa League (and Europa Conference League), or exile waves of top players to get here. He’s got not only the bosses in his corner, but the veterans in the dressing room as well. If he’s learning as they say — and there are changes evident in his tactics and his approach over the seasons — then Bayern may be rewarded with the blossoming of an astute coaching mind into one of the game’s elite managers of his generation.
At least, that’s the hope.
Of course, life’s only smooth like this until the next inquest. But Bayern — and Nagelsmann — have navigated this latest rough patch with aplomb, and have emerged fangs bared, ready to tear apart any challengers. Bring on Borussia Dortmund.