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Opinion: Flick's Bayern treble unparalleled in modern era

Janek Speight
August 24, 2020

When Hansi Flick was handed the Bayern reins back in November, the club was in crisis. In less than a year he's turned the Bavarians into treble champions and enjoyed the best debut season in football history.

Champions League Finale 2020 Paris vs Bayern München | Hansi Flick
Image: Imago Images/Panoramic

Bayern looked rudderless as they capitulated 5-1 to Eintracht Frankfurt back in November. Morale was shot, Bayern's rivals looked strong, and Niko Kovac was shown the door.

His replacement, Hansi Flick, was expected to just steady the floundering behemoth of German football before a long-term coaching solution was found. Instead, he miraculously transformed Bayern into Europe's best club side.

No one saw Bayern's resurgence arriving with such venom. No one predicted the delightful style with which it would be delivered.

No one envisioned that Hansi Flick, the interim coach, would produce the greatest debut coaching season the football world has ever seen.

Managing the man

The signs were there when he masterminded a 4-0 rout against Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund in his first match on the sidelines. He not only returned Bayern to winning ways, he did it the Mia san Mia way — a necessity for the club's hierarchy and its most ardent supporters.

High-octane pressing, smart, short passing, coolness in playing out from the back, productive possession, and lightning quick transitions to hurt teams on the counter attack became Bayern staples. It was frightening to watch as Bayern tore teams to pieces — both at home and abroad.

DFB Pokal Finale I Bayer Leverkusen I Bayern
Trust between Flick and his Bayern Munich players has been key to their success.Image: Getty Images/A. Hassenstein

But the one trait which sums up how Flick transformed the club: trust. A trust in Bayern's old guard — Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer and Jerome Boateng all enjoyed resurgent seasons. A trust in youth — Joshua Kimmich was handed his favored role in midfield full-time and Alphonso Davies was given the opportunity to develop into the world's most dangerous left-back.

A trust in his players to implement his demanding tactics and a trust in his team to make changes independently during matches where a fresh impetus was necessary.

Flick's man management is unparalleled in German football, and is perhaps only matched Europe-wide by the human touch Liverpool have experienced under Jürgen Klopp.

The GOAT debut?

In terms of debut seasons, this is undoubtedly the greatest in modern times. Better than Pep Guardiola's (2008-09) and Luis Enrique's (2014-15) treble seasons, who both had a pre-season with Barcelona and were afforded significant squad additions.

PSV's Guus Hiddink (1987-88) and Ajax's Stefan Kovacs (1971-72) also won the treble in debut seasons and it's always difficult to compare different eras. But again, neither of them won a trifecta of trophies after arriving to a struggling team as interim coaches.

Deutsche Welle Janek Speight Portrait
Janek SpeightImage: DW/B. Geilert

Bayern were in crisis when Flick took over. Many didn't even expect him to win the job full-time, let alone win the Bundesliga. It's difficult to compute exactly how big Flick's achievement is.

Bundesliga. German Cup. Champions League. The latter a particular feat given Bayern's obsession with winning the trophy in recent years. Years where seasoned coaches Carlo Ancelotti and Guardiola failed to deliver the club's highest expectation.

And the scariest thing? Flick isn't done yet. Next season he'll be back at the helm and raring to deliver more trophies for a team that has looked unbeatable under his watchful eye.

Janek Speight Sports reporter and editor