Football Features

How Bayern Munich could line up under the favourites to replace Tuchel

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 19:11, 21 February 2024

Bayern Munich will seek a new permanent head coach once this season concludes.

Following a string of disappointing results, which has put their chances of winning another Bundesliga and Champions League double in serious jeopardy, the club announced incumbent Thomas Tuchel will depart in June — rather than a year later when his present deal expires.

“In an open, good conversation, we decided to end our collaboration in the summer mutually,” Bayern CEO Jan-Christian Dreesen said in a statement.

“We aim to achieve a sporting realignment with a new coach for the 2024/25 season. Until then, every individual in the club is expressly required to achieve the maximum possible in the Champions League and the Bundesliga.

“I also explicitly hold the team responsible for this. We are particularly convinced that in the Champions League, we can… After the 0-1 defeat in the first leg at Lazio, we will move into the quarter-finals in the second leg in our fully occupied Allianz Arena with our fans behind us.”

Having joined Bayern following an up-and-down spell at Chelsea, the 50-year-old Tuchel has overseen 44 matches in the Bavaria hot seat, subsequently winning 28 times while suffering 11 losses.

“We have agreed that we will end our collaboration after this season. Until then, I and my coaching team will continue to do everything we can to ensure maximum success,” he added.

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Tuchel’s exit opens up one of world football’s preeminent coaching roles, and very few can fill it. There will be no shortage of candidates, and it just so happens many are readily available. Here, we look at the favourites to succeed Tuchel and what they can bring to Bayern regarding tactics and presentation.


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If you can’t beat ’em, sign ’em (Xabi Alonso 3/1)

So, chances are the new Bayern manager will be tasked with bringing the Meisterschale back, and in a cruel twist of fate, that coach may very well be the one to end Bayern’s unprecedented 11-year championship run.

Very few will argue against the fact Xabi Alonso leads the pack of this exciting wave of future managerial stars — this in spite of the fact Leverkusen represents his first senior role, after spells coaching Real Sociedad’s ‘B’ team and within Real Madrid’s youth set-up. Having been appointed part of the way through last season, the former midfielder oversaw the club’s remaining 26 matches in which they picked up 13 wins but lost on seven occasions.

All expectations have already been exceeded in 2023/24, with Die Werkself already accruing 18 wins. Most impressively, they’re yet to suffer a loss, the only team across Europe’s big five leagues remaining undefeated deep into this campaign. Furthermore, under his leadership, Bayer is on a 32-game unbeaten run in all competitions, equalling the previous record by a Bundesliga team set by Bayern from 2019 to 2020 under Hansi Flick, who is tipped for the forthcoming vacant Barcelona job.

Next permanent Barcelona manager Sky Bet
Mikel Arteta 5/2
Rafael Marquez 4/1
Jurgen Klopp 6/1
Hansi Flick 7/1
Garcia Pimienta 8/1
Roberto De Zerbi 12/1
Thiago Motta 12/1
Jose Mourinho 16/1
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Bayer midfielder Granit Xhaka recently described his boss as “an example of a new generation of coaching”, and Alonso’s success may have very well been foreseen with the Basque native previously learning under such coaching masters as Pep Guardiola, Rafael Benitez, Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti.

That being said, he’s is no tribute act. Under Alonso’s leadership, Leverkusen predominantly set up in a 3-4-2-1 shape, emphasising their marauding full-backs.

Bayer Leverkusen’s average shape in Bundesliga 2023/24

Although their attack is relenting — 57 goals across their opening 22 league matches this season — Bayer’s strength lies in defensive solidity. No team has conceded fewer goals in Germany’s top division (15), with only PSV (10) and Inter (12) bettering them across Europe’s top seven leagues.

“The more passes we make on the opponents half, the better the positioning will be for the Gegenpressing,” he said. “If we play too far and quick to the other half, we will be far away from each other, the lines will be far away, making Gegenpressing impossible to do properly.”

Alonso is the understandable favourite to land the Bayern job, but the German club have a battle on their hands. The powers-that-be in Leverkusen recently refuted claims of a clause in his contract allowing him to join Liverpool, Real Madrid or Bayern (all Alonso’s former clubs), albeit while adding he could still be allowed to walk away. Alonso represented those clubs with distinction, with the Reds also looking for a manager this summer with Jurgen Klopp announcing his impending departure last month.

Alonso returning to a former stomping ground isn’t the best optics for a league often perceived to bend to Bayern’s whims. In the past two decades, we’ve seen Miroslav Klose, Dante, Mario Gomez, Robert Lewandowski, Mario Götze and Mats Hummels join after they became champions with Werder, Stuttgart, Wolfsburg and Dortmund, respectively. Even runners-up aren’t safe, with Dayot Upamecano, Julian Nagelsmann, and Marcel Sabitzer coming over from RB Leipzig.

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Mr. Champions League (Zinedine Zidane 9/1)

Bayern has never been averse to looking outside their borders. Giovanni Trapattoni, Louis van Gaal, Guardiola and Ancelotti never coached in Germany before answering the call. All four were successful in the Champions League in their previous posts, and that achievement will often stand a candidate in good stead.

One interesting choice who meets this criteria is Zinedine Zidane. The links are not solely to do with his European Cup success, though. Rather, Zidane did so in a similar environment. Real Madrid and Bayern are two peas in a pod: both are their nation’s most successful clubs, both heavily scrutinised by the press and fan base.

Winning is all that matters in the Spanish capital and Munich. Anything less is a sackable offence. At the manager’s disposal are the highest of profiled names, meaning either team doesn’t necessarily requires a tactical wizard. Sometimes a father figure-esque superstar whisperer is just what is needed.

Real Madrid’s average shape in La Liga 2020/21

During both his Real spells, Zidane wasn’t renowned for any innovation but for getting the best of his talented squad and ensuring harmony off the field. The other key characteristic of Zidane’s leadership style is flexibility, often floating between a one-striker formation or two up top. The latter saw a lethal number nine dovetailing with an impressive winger.

According to Corriere Dello Sport, the Frenchman is a frontrunner to replace Tuchel, and the idea of him nurturing his compatriot Mathys Tel much like he did with Vinícius Júnior could be music to some Bayern supporter’s ears.

“I learn from him every day, in every training session,” the Brazilian forward said in a past interview. “He was a great player and is a great coach. He does everything he can for us to feel good, not only on the pitch but also at home; he asks a lot about our family. If I’m well at home, I’m sure to be well here.”

Tel, who turns 19 next month, is being tipped as Bayern’s next great superstar. The soon-to-be France international has already made 56 appearances in all competitions, registering 12 goals and four assists, with 23 of those games coming with Harry Kane on the pitch, combining for three goals.

Der Spezielle (Jose Mourinho 7/1)

“I really miss football. I miss the adrenaline, the field, my job. Football is football. Right now, I am studying German. Bundesliga? Now, I’m studying German because I miss the language. I speak English, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian. But I do not exclude anything, not even Germany,” Jose Mourinho said between his time coaching Manchester United and Tottenham. However, that desire to manage in a fifth different competition is unlikely to have receded.

Available following his exit from Roma, a comeback here almost feels too good to pass up. If ever there was a celebrity manager, it’s Mourinho. Coupled with Bayern’s ‘FC Hollywood’ moniker, expect fireworks.

Headlines aside, there is a real question to be answered here. Does Mourinho still fit in at the top of the modern game? His cheerleaders say yes, but scepticism continues to grow. His recent stints began promisingly before incredibly tailing off. The last thing Bayern need is another volatile period; Mourinho is in a different class, but Niko Kovač’s reign is fresh in the memory.

And we haven’t even gotten to Mourinho’s pragmatism. Bayern were spoiled under Guardiola, but even under subsequent coaches, they were on the front foot. Expectations of positive football will have to be met by whoever takes over. Mourinho’s approach, while having often yielded successful results, is unlikely to go down well in Bavaria.

AS Roma average shape in Serie A 2022/23

On the other hand, there is one former student of Mourinho’s in Munich who has electrified audiences despite this season’s league position. Kane previously turned out 62 times for Mourinho, netting 45 goals and creating 18 more. Although it was a brief time working together, Kane nevertheless enjoyed the experience. “I think I had a great relationship with Jose; we got on from minute one,” he said in a conversation with The Overlap in May 2021, after Mourinho had left.

“I think we understood each other; we had a similar mentality, and how we saw stuff on the pitch, off the pitch and mentality in training, so we built that relationship. Again, it’s a shame we couldn’t go on to win things, but I’ve been lucky enough to work with Mauricio [Pochettino] and Jose; they’re two incredible managers who have only helped me in my career.”

The unthinkable? (Jurgen Klopp 6/1)

If the idea of Mourinho coaching Bayern seems unlikely, then what does that make Klopp? Second-favourite, according to Sky Bet. Not a contender, according to his agent.

The affable German tactician, a one-time thorn in Munich’s side, will be on the market this summer after stepping down from his Liverpool role. In his comments following that shock announcement, Klopp affirmed coaching another English team was a non-starter, given his love for the six-time European champions. One can assume the same for Borussia Dortmund, where he lifted back-to-back Bundesliga crowns, being the last German club Klopp leads.

There’s been reported interest before, with the late Franz Beckenbauer telling Bild in 2019: “I wish for nothing more than that one day he will come to Bayern. For me, he is one of the world’s best coaches. What he started in Dortmund, he has refined with Liverpool.”

But Klopp, who began his managerial journey at Mainz following an uneventful playing career, still plans to take a sabbatical.

“Jurgen Klopp will not coach any club or national team for a year after this current season. That remains unchanged,” Klopp’s agent Marc Kosicke told Sky Germany.

Still, one can always wonder how a Bayern team under his leadership could look. Enough pieces are already in place, allowing him to mimic his present Liverpool team. Bayern uses their width just as deadly, and Klopp has long-admired Kane.