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Opinion: Flick doesn't deserve to suffer from extremes

November 30, 2019

Bayern Munich losing normally makes headlines across the world, such is the rareness of the result. But the club's defeat to Leverkusen, particuarly for their head coach, doesn't need to be so severe.

Image: Reuters/A. Gebert

In their surprise defeat to Leverkusen, Bayern hit the post three times, Robert Lewandowski failed to score for the second straight league game, and the hosts faced a Leverkusen defense and goalkeeper in fantastic form. The visitors even had a man sent off with 10 minutes to go and Bayern still couldn't find an equalizer. Sometimes, it just isn't your day.

It would be easy to suggest that this defeat has made it clear that Flick is not the right man for the job, and it seems a guarantee that some publications will, but that would be nothing more than a reflection of the impulsive analysis that so often rears its head in football. There's no doubt internally little panic will occur for Bayern after this, but the assessment of Flick or his players or the way this team is playing shouldn't change just because of this result.

Four wins doesn't make you a great head coach, and one loss doesn't discredit your ability as a coach either - at least it shouldn't. And yet football, in truth much of society, remains a source of extreme highs and lows. After the 54-year-old had secured the best ever start to a coaching career at Bayern by winning the first four games of his tenure, with his side scoring 16 and conceding none in the process, Flick was labeled the answer to Bayern's problems. By the time the Leverkusen game came around, there was already talk of Flick being a long-term solution.

Deutsche Welle Englisch Fußball Jonathan Harding
DW Sports' Jonathan HardingImage: DW/P.Henriksen

Now that Bayern have lost a game under him, where does that leave assessment of Flick? At the other end of the extreme, not the right man for Bayern.

The problem is not whether Flick is or isn't the right head coach, the problem is the extremity of the assessment that winning or losing brings. We seem to have forgotten there is also room for nuance. Perhaps he will be, but four wins and one defeat isn't a large enough sample size to truly answer that question.

Players are often labeled as "the best in the world" for a handful of performances, while coaches can either be geniuses or idiots based on the result of a Saturday afternoon's game. Such extremes help no one, and blur the real picture. So much more work from so many people goes into a Saturday that is unseen. And like anything in life, results matter, but they can't be all that matters. 

The headlines might say different after this weekend, but after the defeat to Leverkusen three things are clear: Hansi Flick is still one of the smartest men in football in Germany, his affect on Bayern continues to be a largely positive one and that Bayern can still be on the wrong end of luck.