Bayern were incredibly inconsistent in the early stages of the season under previous manager Niko Kovac. They also dropped points to Hoffenheim, Augsburg, Hertha Berlin and RB Leipzig by November. Ultimately, this led to Kovac’s departure after 16 months in charge.
Flick, initially appointed as an interim manager, didn’t take long to make his mark. Small changes, consistency and getting the best from his star players eventually led to three major trophies by the end of the season. Flick also boasts a 92% win rate with Bayern and secured a three-year contract extension in April.
Bayern only lost two games between Flick’s appointment and the Champions League final victory over Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday. The result capped a sensational season for Bayern, but it also showcased Flick as the ideal appointment for Munich despite a fairly low-key managerial past.
Hansi Flick: An Unbeatable Bayern Munich
A Modest Profile
It has been an incredible rise for Flick. His initial appointment as an interim following Kovac’s dismissal showed the intentions of Bayern’s board – that Flick was as a stand-in rather than a permanent solution.
Despite being successful as an assistant to both German national manager Joachim Löw, between 2006-2014, and to Kovac at Bayern for four months, Flick’s managerial history is limited.
The 55-year-old’s previous managerial positions were with lower league German side FC Bammental and 1899 Hoffenheim. Flick held these roles in the late 90s and early 00s and had not managed a team for 19 years before taking the Bayern job.
Flick’s background makes his success with Bayern even more remarkable. The role is one of the biggest and most high-pressured in world football. The determination throughout the entire club to achieve success perhaps did not meet the modest prior credentials Flick could display.
The Rise of Hansi Flick
Yet, ten months after his interim appointment, Flick and his team won the Champions League, the Bundesliga and the DFB Pokal. They are also still on a mammoth 27 unbeaten run in all competitions stretching back to December.
Flick’s side became the first team ever to win every game in a Champions League campaign. Their 8-2 dismantling of Barcelona in the quarter-finals and 3-0 away win over Chelsea in the last 16 a testament to the job Flick has done with Bayern.
Furthermore, Flick led Bayern to their eighth successive Bundesliga, brushing aside a competitive Borussia Dortmund. A vital 1-0 win over their title rivals in late May showcased the grit of Flick’s side. They then lifted their 20th German Cup title, beating Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 in an enthralling final in July.
Such success has come from Flick embracing the expectations that come with the role as Bayern manager. His calm demeanour, empathy and relationship with the players a perfect blend that created a run of 27 matches unbeaten.
Since his first match as Bayern manager, Hansi Flick has not flinched from using his fluid 4-2-3-1 come 4-3-3 formation. He used this formation in all of his 36 games with Bayern.
The structured back four of Benjamin Pavard, Jerome Boateng, David Alaba and Alphonso Davies provides defensive reinforcement. The protection of Joshua Kimmich and long-term servant Thiago Alcantara in front also gives the attacking players the platform to achieve.
The attacking players duly delivered. The fluid formations of pushing the likes of Kingsley Koman and Serge Gnabry forward when in the attack gives width and directness, but the balance with the technical quality and creativity of players like Thomas Muller, Kimmich, a blossoming Leon Goretzka and Philippe Coutinho gives their attacking threat a double edge – coming from the middle and from out wide.
Flick instilled a work-rate in his team that has also been central to their success, flooding the opposition in dangerous areas using the gegenpress to win the ball back quickly. This extends to the over-lapping full-backs too, especially utilising the pace of the impressive Davies at left-back.
This balance between defence and attack, along with the incredible work-rate, has benefitted everyone at Bayern. Flick’s consistency and ability to implement his formation and tactical approach has got the best from his high-profile players.
Hansi Flick clearly has an excellent rapport with his players and places the team at the centre of everything.
Speaking after the Champions League victory on Sunday to the Independent, Flick said: “The team is always in the foreground. When you see how we worked until the 96th minute tonight in defence then it is a superb team spirit.
“Every player developed this season in such a way so as to win three titles. This only happens as a team.”
This approach is typical of Flick’s humble demeanour. He has got the best out his side and the cohesion at the club appears to be extremely high.
Under Flick, the players clearly have an excellent understanding. The squad’s performances have gone up a gear.
In particular, Polish talisman Robert Lewandowski has benefitted. The 32-year-old scored 55 goals and won three golden boots this season. Lewandowski won the award in the Bundesliga (34 goals), the Champions League (15) and the DFB Pokal (six).
Playmaker Muller also looks invigorated. The 30-year-old produced the consistency he has shown for the majority of his career under Flick.
Flick immediately brought Muller to play behind Lewandoski in place of Coutinho, favoured more under Kovac, Muller has not let Flick down either as the attacking midfielder contributed 21 assists and eight goals to finish the season.
Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman have frightened defences with their place and directness. They are both maturing players in this Bayern side. But Gnabry more so has improved under Flick.
The 25-year-old finished as second-top-scorer after Lewandowski (12) and laid on the most goals after Muller (ten). Gnabry also scored important goals on the big stage. He scored two goals against Lyon in the Champions League semi-final to help his team to the final against PSG.
However, the fringe players have also played a big part in Bayern’s success. The high-levels of performance from squad players has been epitomised by the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Leon Goretzka and Ivan Perisic.
Although not first on the team sheet under Flick, who likes to name a consistent starting 11, these players have all contributed and maintained high-levels of performance.
Goretzka, in particular, enjoyed a purple patch in the Bundesliga after the restart. The German midfielder scored four goals, produced two assists and controlled games with expert passing and control.
If Flick can keep this team together, there is no reason why they cannot maintain their unbeaten run into next season. They will also stand an excellent chance of defending their treble.