Second place is an all too familiar label that will define FC Bayern Munich this season, not only did they finish second to rivals Dortmund in the race for the Bundesliga title and the domestic DFB Cup, they had a soul destroying night in front of their own fans as they suffered defeat at the hands of Chelsea. The penalty shootout loss broke the hearts of those connected with Bayern in the Allianz arena that night – the season was lost. Disappointing second places isn’t enough for the fans and the clubs managerial hierarchy, but they have a lot to be positive about and the future looks bright.
When Bayern fail to win trophies alarm bells ring; it is just something that is not acceptable or expected in the same way it isn’t at a club like Barcelona or Manchester United. This is a mentality that will work in Bayern Munich’s favour as the board will invest heavily in the playing squad for next season and the team will have to raise their game. One of the main criticisms of Bayern is that their team outside their starting XI is not that strong – the Champions League was a prime example of this, Chelsea had players on the bench that could come on and influence the game, Bayern did not.
Bayern Munich did have suspensions to deal with, but overall they miss a creativity and depth when it comes to their squad. You cannot argue that Bayern’s first XI are exceptional, perhaps some of the best players in Europe and they are a team that mimics both the current Barcelona side and Manchester United of old.
Very few clubs have the ability to breed players; Manchester United did it with a golden generation that played in their youth teams who went on to become Manchester United legend. You cannot argue that Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville were some of the best Premier League players of their generation and underpinned much of Manchester United’s success.
Barcelona’s homegrown generation of Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Pique, Puyol and Messi are the key components as to why Barcelona are considered the best team on the planet. Both Manchester United and Barcelona have suffered similar fates to that of Bayern Munich this season, under achieving as a number two. Bayern are no different to these other great clubs and have a team that is spawned from mainly homegrown players.
Philip Lahm, Thomas Muller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Holger Badstuber and Toni Kroos are all graduates of the Bayern youth academy who have made the successful transition to the Bayern XI and also become full German international. On top of that lot you also have Diego Contento and David Alaba who are continuing to progress in the first team squad after being schooled in the academy, as homegrown talent keeps the Bayern philosophy and mentality following through the club.
Bayern’s scouting network is second to none and has the ability to spot talent that the club can secure and mould in to a player that fits the ‘Bayern way’. The Bayern youth academy has a simple goal ‘to have the best youth development in club football’ and is already held in high regard along with others like Barcelona’s La Masia youth academy. Clubs constantly try to recreate the La Masia’s blueprint on youth development, but many clubs wouldn’t go too wrong by looking to Bayern structure in recent years.
Bayern may have already signed FC Basel creative talent Xherdan Shaqiri on a pre-contract and will want to recruit further this summer following disappointment this season, but they will not have to rely on simply the transfer market for new talent as young players from Bayern’s youth academy are starting to push for first team recognition. The brightest star on the Bayern production line is Christian Derflinger who is as highly-rated as Dortmund’s own wonderkid Mario Gotze.
18-year-old Derflinger is an attacking midfielder who seems to possess unbelievable vision and passing ability, he is both footed and is an exciting talent and Bayern star of the future. It maybe too soon for Derflinger to make the step up, he is yet to represent Bayern Munich II, but he is not the only budding talent who will get his chances in the coming years. Another player it is probably too soon for is Bayern’s surprise signing of last summer Dale Jennings. The young Englishman, recruited from Tranmere, is already in love with the Bayern culture and knows what it takes to make it.
Back in April, Jennings told the Independent “I need to understand that if I want to make an impact here I’ve got to come on and play with some of the best players in the world.” In the same interview Jennings summed up the ‘Bayern way’ after watching the first team all season: “A lot of teams come here and try and attack but Bayern just keep the ball so well, they can just pass their way through any team. Not many teams come here and get a result – Bayern believe they can beat anyone.” Sound familiar?
Bayern Munich may have had a bad season by their standards, showing how fine the line between success and failure really is – had they won the Champions League, then the Bundesliga second would hurt that little bit less and the season would be a labeled ‘a success’ as player, fan and institution would have basked in the title of the Kings of Europe. Instead they are the kings of second place, something that will grate on the world’s fifth biggest club all summer. Don’t fear Bayern fans, that shouldn’t last long because the future is exciting for the club and no doubt next season will be a different story.