Helmut Schön was "the man with the cap" all his life. The former national coach, world and European champion with the DFB team, very rarely took off his typical headgear, which is why he received this nickname. In Munich, people are talking about the "man with the kepi" these days. Because Thomas Tuchel, the new coach of FC Bayern, always wears a baseball cap. Probably also to hide what men at the age of 49 are often missing at the top.
Tuchel only shows his thinker's forehead and receding hairline on special occasions. At his presentation on taking office and this Tuesday evening, both in the press conference room of the Allianz Arena. A reminder of the importance of the moment?
Bayern need a miracle that has never been achieved in their more than 60-year European history, they have to make up for a 0-3 defeat in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday evening. In addition: Manchester City lost under coach Pep Guardiola only three times with three or more goals difference. "Maybe something magical is possible," said captain Thomas Müller, "we know that completely different things have happened in football." You have to "climb a mountain," said Tuchel and added with the necessary dose of realism: "The task is extremely difficult. We know what is waiting for us. If we play at the maximum level, anything can happen. We need the momentum and at least the same performance as in the first leg for it tipping over to our side." Despite Manchester's 0: 3, the coach "fell in love with his team because of the very good 70 minutes" because he didn't want to base his judgment on the performance on the final score. A rhetorical trick.
Since taking office just over three weeks ago, Tuchel has impressed with his pleasant manner and a convincing speech. On Tuesday evening he emphasized: "We can't talk up a miracle. It would almost be a miracle if we could do it. It's about finding faith. At the same time, believing means not dreaming. We are responsible for ensuring that the spark jumps, that we also take the spectators with us. Then we do it half-time after half-time, step by step."
But internally, everyone involved in Säbener Strasse has already come to terms with the third quarter-final defeat in a row in the Champions League. The last time there was such an anti-series was in the 2000s. After the triumph in the premier class in 2001, they did not get past the quarter-finals in seven seasons in the Champions League.
What would this cut mean, since the goal of winning the DFB Cup two weeks ago crumbled in the Freiburg resistance (1: 2) and after ten mostly sovereign finishes, the championship is being nibbled on this time by the - sometimes biting, sometimes toothless - Dortmund Borussia? What effects would the final farewell to the dream destination Henkelpott have for Bayern?
First for Tuchel himself: The former BVB coach was hired in a hurry to save the goals of the season that were endangered by predecessor Julian Nagelsmann. If Bayern is now also eliminated from the Champions League, Tuchel's image would be cracked despite the difficult, sudden stepping in in the hottest phase of the season. The bosses have chosen him as the "best choice" and given him a contract until 2025. Stability of the team on the field and sovereignty in the game management are currently pure wishful thinking. The entire club structure seems unstable, the sources of unrest have long since crept from the outside to the "inner circle", right into the cabin. Behold the cabin mole sticking internals into the press.
With groundbreaking transfers, above all a top-class center forward is urgently needed, a return of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer in earlier form and class and a proper summer preparation for his first real season, Tuchel can start almost from scratch after the summer vacation. And turn the team inside out. "Our game seems tense, not with trust and the very last implicitness," he analyzed, "the inconsistency is the issue this season - also in individual games like in Manchester. That can't be stopped in the short term, but we're working to it." Then more intense from July.
Because: The self-image in the Bayern game is gone, the accumulation of errors is blatant. The team misses the togetherness. Everyone plays for themselves - and is closest to themselves. The simmering dissatisfaction of some stars with their role culminated in the altercation between Sadio Mané and Leroy Sané in the dressing room after the Manchester first leg. After a verbal dispute, Mané gave his teammate a big lip. The frustrated superstar and mega-buyer of last summer, meanwhile a "show transfer" for the trade journal "kicker", was severely sanctioned. One game suspension and the highest fine in the club's history. FC Hollywood is experiencing a revival of dazzling proportions. It's about titles, rubble, temperaments.
It is clear that Tuchel was only able to partially implement his philosophy and his idea after five games in his three-week tenure. It becomes problematic when match plans deviate from earlier approaches by his predecessor Nagelsmann and the players are therefore overloaded in terms of content. The hard disk is full, the system crash was basically inevitable. Normally, a change of coach takes place in order to bring unsettled players back on course. At Bayern, the change of coach has also unsettled the players. Because they radiate this on the pitch, the opponents in the game draw more strength and confidence from minute to minute.
The structure of the squad seems porous, the squad itself is unbalanced, as for the first eleven - apart from the long-term injured Lucas Hernández - only 13, 14 field players for ten positions are possible. If some pillars such as Dayot Upamecano, Alphonso Davies, Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala and Sadio Mané are in low form, as is currently the case, the entire structure is shaking alarmingly. In the event of a clear departure, Tuchel would have more arguments for a more radical upheaval, although apart from the loan players Joao Cancelo and Daley Blind, no other contract expires in the summer.
This is primarily decided by the sporting leadership. But does Bayern's fish stink from the head? On the VIP stand of the Allianz Arena, CEO Oliver Kahn could be seen raging and cursing in the 1-1 draw against Hoffenheim on Saturday, like at the most emotional time of his goalkeeper existence. However, he remained silent to the media. Other employees such as sports director Hasan Salihamidzic need guidelines to which they can base their statements - and not just short perseverance slogans that are published on Kahn's Twitter account. "We have to do everything we can to make the seemingly impossible possible. This requires total conviction and belief in it," he wrote, appealing with optimism: "With the support of the fans in the arena, everything is possible. I have that experienced it myself often enough."
In the management floor, there is a risk of a sting and sting in a season without a title, since the complete failure is also attributed to the work of the bosses. Will Kahn then drop sports director Salihamidzic or - as a smaller victim - Marco Neppe, the technical director? Does the supervisory board agree to such a buck game? One of Salihamidzic's advocates has always been Uli Hoeneß, honorary president and member of the supervisory board.
If, despite the hopelessness, the semi-finals succeed, in the future one will probably speak reverently of that April 19, 2023 as the big bang of the TT era in Munich. Then, and only then, should the championship be a sure-fire success. The fickle Bavarians currently have a two-point lead over BVB in the Bundesliga. Thin ice that could become brittle if things go wrong against City and a negative pull could ensue.