Bayern Munich’s Champions League exit on Wednesday has turned the focus on the club’s hierarchy and their surprise decision to sack former manager Julian Nagelsmann.
The six-time winners drew 1-1 at home against Manchester City but went out 4-1 on aggregate in the quarter-finals, after a 3-0 first leg demolition in Manchester.
Nagelsmann was sacked in late March with the club still in the mix for a treble.
In six matches under Tuchel, Bayern have won two, drawn two and lost two, being eliminated from both the German Cup and the Champions League.
But while Tuchel is likely to be spared much of the criticism due to the little time he has had in the job so far, the focus has been laid squarely on club leadership.
Chief executive Oliver Kahn and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic have come under fire from fans, not only for firing Nagelsmann, but the direction of the club as a whole since taking over from Bayern figure-heads Uli Hoeness and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
Even if Bayern win a record 11th straight Bundesliga title this season, the club’s hierarchy is still facing its first true test.
– Eight from eight –
With resources that dwarf every other German club, domestic superiority appears secure for Bayern — even if they only currently have a two-point Bundesliga lead over Dortmund — placing more weight on Champions League glory.
Given the importance the tournament carries in Munich, the decision to sack Nagelsmann is even more perplexing.
He had won eight from eight, twice dispatching Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and semi-finalists Inter Milan, without conceding as much as one goal.
Despite all the talk of the club’s stuttering performance under Nagelsmann, Bayern only lost three of 37 matches in all competitions this season.
Bayern put significant faith in Nagelsmann, paying upwards of 25 million euros to release him from his RB Leipzig contract, the highest transfer fee for a manager, before signing him to a five-year deal.
Salihamidzic, the architect of the Nagelsmann deal, said the new manager would be a “long-term project” in the vein of club legends Ottmar Hitzfeld and Jupp Heynckes.
Just days after a 2-1 loss to Bayer Leverkusen left Bayern second, one point behind Dortmund, club management pulled the trigger and Nagelsmann was out.
The club bosses had sought to recreate the treble-winning season of 2019-20, where caretaker manager Hansi Flick was appointed mid-season for the fired Niko Kovac, with Bayern going on to claim every trophy on offer.
Management even referenced Tuchel taking Chelsea to a Champions League title after being installed mid-season.
– ‘Question management policy’ –
In the lead-up to Wednesday’s match, Kahn told Bild “of course, we imagined it a little differently”, discussing the team’s German Cup exit, Bundesliga form and likely Champions League elimination since the Nagelsmann decision.
Besides Nagelsmann’s sacking, recruitment decisions have come under fire, particularly the failure to properly replace star striker Robert Lewandowski.
Summer arrival Sadio Mane, 31, brought in to much fanfare, has failed to hit his Liverpool heights and has not scored for Bayern since October.
Across both legs against Manchester City, Bayern could only manage one goal – a penalty from captain Joshua Kimmich on Wednesday.
Besides Kimmich, defenders Dayot Upamecano, Benjamin Pavard and Matthijs de Ligt have been the only players to get on the scoresheet in Bayern’s past five matches.
A banner unfurled by Bayern fans at the end of Wednesday’s game read: “Goals can be missed, but values of the club may not: question management policy.”
Tuchel addressed the banner after Wednesday’s match, saying: “I can promise the fans that we are taking good care of the club.”