Should video replays be used to help officials? Do teams play too defensively against Bayern? And what does the phrase 'interim coach' mean any more? Those are the talking points after Matchday 11 in the Bundesliga.
Self-interest is rarely so transparent as when coaches are asked, in the wake of an officiating error, whether technology should play a greater role in football. Such was the case in Wolfsburg on Saturday evening when referee Manuel Gräfe allowed a goal for the hosts to stand despite the assist coming from a clear offside position.
"That's something for the powers that be to decide, not me," growled Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking. "In any case, we had a clear penalty not given in the second-half so things even out."
"If we have the capabilities, we shouldn't leave situations like this that decide games up to referees," said Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt. "Debatable situations are part of the sport, but not decisions that decide games. There's too much at stake."
You can bet the positions the two men took would have been reversed, had Gräfe's mistake benefited Leverkusen and not Wolfsburg. To his credit, the 42-year old official admitted that he'd dropped the ball and apologized, saying "There are better days as a referee, and then there are ones like these."
But as any coach on the losing end of a wrong call immediately acknowledges, there would be more such better days if officials had the chance to review key decisions. Critics claim video replays would destroy the flow of the game - something that has proven not to be the case in tennis, baseball, American football, rugby and basketball, just to name a few. But why simply make a no-brainer change when one can discuss it season after season after season?
No fair playing defense
Bayern Munich's season is no longer perfect, and the German champions wasted no time in identifying the culprit - Eintracht Frankfurt, who had the temerity to field a six-man defensive line.
"It was impossible for us to score today - you simply don't play the way Frankfurt did today," carped midfielder Arturo Vidal. "I'd like to have seen any team score today."
There was a Mourinho-esque hypocrisy to Vidal's statement, which the Bundesliga is not used to and was more or less echoed by Manuel Neuer and Philipp Lahm. Bayern protesting that opponents play too defensively makes about as much sense as Bayern's opponents objecting to the fact that the Bavarians field a starting eleven worth at least 350 million euros.
If anything, Bayern should be grateful to Frankfurt for taking an eleven-men-behind-the-ball approach. That's precisely what the Bavarians are going to face on Wednesday in the Champions League against Arsenal, who will also be more than happy to settle for a scoreless draw against a far wealthier adversary.
Admitting the truth about coaching jobs
André Schubert now jointly owns the record for the most successful coaching start in Bundesliga history, so you'd think he and his club Borussia Mönchengladbach would rush to make his status permanent. Not at all. Schubert remains, technically, an interim coach, and neither side seems to have a problem with that.
"We're all interim coaches," the likeable Schubert said after his sixth straight victory on Saturday. "The difference is that I don't have a contract."
Gladbach's sporting director Max Eberl confirmed that the club was not in contact with any other coaches, but insisted the Foals would take more time in deciding on their long-term strategy.
Why not just confirm Schubert in post, as everyone expects? Perhaps, there's an element of the 'if it isn't broken, don't fix it' superstition involved. In any case, it's refreshing for a coach and a club to acknowledge that there's no such thing as a "permanent" coaching job - just a series of temporary appointments with contracts that help determine the size of the severance package in the likelihood that the employee gets fired some day.