• Jue. Jul 18th, 2024

-> Noticias de futbol internacional

Bayern Munich, Vincent Kompany and the summer’s strangest managerial appointment

The Athletic


It will be remembered as one of the strangest managerial searches of recent years.

In February, Bayern Munich decided to part ways with Thomas Tuchel. Since then, they have spoken to Julian Nagelsmann, Xabi Alonso, Ralf Rangnick and Hansi Flick, were frustrated in an approach for Oliver Glasner, and even failed to persuade Tuchel to stay on.

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Now, three months on, Bayern have finally named his successor: Vincent Kompany, a name few would have deemed plausible when their hunt began.

Kompany, 38, arrives fresh from leading Burnley to an ignominious relegation from the Premier League, and with no big club managerial experience, even if he does boast a glittering CV as a player.

So why have they done it? The Athletic has spoken to people familiar with the situation at both Bayern and Burnley, who spoke anonymously to protect relationships, to answer that question.

We can reveal:

  • Bayern had been tracking Kompany for months but only moved to the top of their list of targets in the last fortnight
  • Some Burnley staff did not take initial reports of German club’s interest seriously
  • Kompany’s Guardiola influence and language skills made him particularly appealing
  • Bayern’s squad were not consulted over Kompany’s appointment

Bayern, through their sporting director Christoph Freund, first met Kompany to discuss the possibility of taking charge on Monday last week. The response was enthusiastic and, by Tuesday, a deal with him had been struck, pending an agreement on compensation with Burnley.

Bayern were extremely impressed by Kompany during their conversations over those two days. The decision to pursue him was made Max Eberl, the board director for sport, and those meetings further convinced him, but also other Bayern officials that they were making the right choice. Kompany flew to Germany on Wednesday this week to put pen to paper.

Christoph Freund


Christoph Freund was the first person from Bayern who spoke to Vincent Kompany (Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

That process took a while, with Burnley pushing for a significant sum for a manager who had only signed a new five-year contract last summer. Burnley were conscious it put them in a strong position to agree a sum that will offset some of the costs of relegation and the loss of television money. There were also protracted discussions over the structure of the compensation package

An agreement was finally reached last Friday — with the clubs settling on a figure of an initial sum of €12million.

Now the hard work begins for Kompany — to first win over a fanbase and local media who are sceptical about his credentials to lead one of the world’s biggest clubs and restore them to the summit of German and European football.


When the final whistle blew on Burnley’s painful Premier League campaign last Sunday, a 2-1 home defeat to Nottingham Forest, the last thing on Kompany’s mind was the possibility of becoming Bayern manager.

After completing his media duties at Turf Moor, Kompany flew away on holiday. He has not been back to the club or training ground since.

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There was no indication, however, that Kompany was expecting that to be his final game in charge. Before that Forest game, he had recorded an interview with Burnley’s in-house media where he spoke positively about his plans for next season and bringing the club back to the Premier League at the first attempt.

It was a familiar message from the final weeks of the season, when Kompany — whose only previous coaching experience had been his two-year stint at Anderlecht — had communicated to staff that he would be staying to continue Burnley’s project, feeling he still had more to learn.

Before the Bayern interest materialised, a major staff overhaul was set to take place to freshen things up with goalkeeper coach Jelle ten Rouwelaar heading to Ajax and assistant manager Craig Bellamy also due to leave. Bellamy will not be joining Kompany in Germany and his future remains uncertain but Floribert Ngalula (first-team coach) and Bram Geers (performance coach and session planner) are expected to be part of his backroom team in Munich.

First-team coach Mike Jackson will stay at Burnley, while assistant manager Piet Cremers and set piece coach Eliot Tybebo, who both arrived last summer, may leave the club.

When rumours began to swirl around Bayern and Kompany at the start of the week, some staff members at Burnley did not take them seriously.

That may, in part, be explained by the haphazard nature of Bayern’s search for a new manager since Tuchel’s departure was announced on Febaury 21. Having been turned down by Alonso, Nagelsmann and Rangnick, as well as holding talks with Flick, Bayern then failed to persuade Crystal Palace to allow Glasner to enter negotiations on taking over. Bayern were willing to pay around €18million (£15.5m) in compensation but the London club, who had only hired Glasner in February, refused to engage.

Oliver Glasner


Crystal Palace’s Oliver Glasner was one of several candidates considered by Bayern (Ian Kington/AFP via Getty Images)

There were then more discussions with Tuchel over the possibility of staying on, only for those to founder as well. Bayern had admired Kompany and monitored his progress for several months but it was only then that they made him their new top target.

There was little Burnley’s owners could do to stand in his way. It is an opportunity that is impossible to turn down for Kompany, and the club have been keen to not hold back employees who wish to progress their careers and realise their ambitions of reaching the highest level.

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For Kompany, this is a return to familiar terrain. He has no coaching experience in the Bundesliga, but he played for Hamburg between 2006 and 2008, prior to joining Manchester City, and that knowledge of the league and footballing culture was a factor in Bayern’s pursuit of him.

Kompany also speaks excellent German, a point that also appealed to Bayern. While not a prerequisite for managerial candidates, they felt that would help a new coach to build a rapport with the local media. They also believed that it would benefit Bayern’s internal environment; they did not want to appoint a non-German speaker with a large coaching staff and risk building, in effect, a club within a club. Bayern want a familial atmosphere.

Vincent Kompany


Vincent Kompany has Bundesliga experience from his time as a player with Hamburger SV (Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Kompany’s first language is French, which was another selling point. One of the issues Bayern have been trying to remedy is a lack of unity in the dressing room, which has been — except for Flick’s 18-months in charge — a consistent problem since Pep Guardiola’s departure in 2016. With a strong French-speaking contingent at the club, including Kingsley Coman, Dayot Upamecano, and Mathys Tel, that was another strength of Kompany’s candidacy.

The biggest appeal is his connection to Guardiola, though. Kompany captained Manchester City for three years under Guardiola and that influence is obvious in the teams he has built since retiring. Bayern sought out the Spaniard’s opinion, and he offered a glowing reference of his former player who he has championed as a future Manchester City manager.

While Kompany’s Burnley found themselves outclassed in the Premier League, during their promotion from the Championship they dominated the ball, pressed relentlessly and exerted their will on opponents. Burnley were stylish and proactive and many of their attacking shapes were familiar to anybody who watched Guardiola’s City.

While tactics and formations were not top of Bayern’s agenda in making this appointment, the suitability of Kompany’s football to both the current squad and the style expected of them went a long way to assuaging doubts about him. There is also an acceptance internally at Bayern that Kompany is an evolving coach.

The Belgian is a workaholic. He regularly worked 12 to 14-hour days at Burnley with development and learning wired into his DNA. He is meticulously detailed, leaving no stone unturned through demanding training sessions and regular team meetings, determined to find solutions and accelerate improvement.

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There is no escaping the fact that this appointment represents a gamble for Bayern, however, particularly given the way Burnley’s return to the Premier League played out.

A common accusation made against Kompany was that he was naive in his approach and that his failure to adapt his style quickly enough was crucial in ensuring they won just five games on their way to a 19th-placed finish — one place below Luton Town, who spent a fraction of Burnley’s £90million outlay on transfers last summer — and relegation.

After tweaking from a single pivot to a double pivot and varying Burnley’s approach in possession, they eventually became competitive, but it took until the last 10 games before they were able to string positive results together.

Part of the analysis was that, while well suited to coaching a team which enjoyed technical superiority, he was not flexible enough to adapt to the challenges at a higher level.


Vincent Kompany is close to Pep Guardiola from their time together at Manchester City (Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

It is not an unfair charge. At Bayern, though, he will be working with the best squad in the Bundesliga — certainly on a player-by-player basis. In that sense, he may be better suited to this job than a survival mission at Turf Moor.

What may prove more challenging is his relative lack of autonomy at the Allianz Arena. At Burnley, where his personal reputation eclipsed that of his club, a squad was constructed around him. He had the full support of Burnley’s board and, as a result, was a major influence in all areas relating to the team. In effect, he had the keys to the club.

That will not be the case at Sabener Strasse, where he will be one component of a vast machine. Max Eberl, the board director for sport, and Freund will be in charge of all recruiting decisions. Above them, the club’s highly influential elders, Uli Hoeness, the honorary president, and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the long-time chairman of the club’s executive board, retain significant political influence.

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It is completely different to anything that Kompany has experienced at Anderlecht or Burnley. He has experience of playing for big clubs, of course, but the Bayern environment contrasts with what he would have encountered at City. How well Kompany copes with that environment and the comparative lack of control will be a decisive factor.

Another issue is the players. Some of the current Bayern squad played against Kompany, including Manuel Neuer and Thomas Muller in the Champions League, and Harry Kane and Eric Dier in the Premier League. Whether Kompany is able to command the respect of a notoriously powerful group of players is one of the unknowns. They were not consulted around the hiring of Kompany.

At Burnley, he largely allowed the dressing room to police itself. When he arrived at the club, he quickly established a leadership group and, buoyed by excellent results, the squad was harmonious.

After promotion and following a harsh introduction to Premier League life — Burnley won only three league games between August and the end of December — he experienced more difficulty. Some of the players who had been crucial to the promotion, including Arijanet Muric, Anass Zaroury and Benson Manuel, were either marginalised or discarded, moves which irked some of their team-mates.

Kompany is also not the most personable man-manager. While his media tendency is to protect his players from criticism and draw attention towards their effort and endeavour, privately he is not known for explaining selection decisions or taking time to tell individual players why they are not in the team.

It is indicative of his clinical approach in general. Kompany gives short shrift to players’ complaints or to those who moan or sulk. In a sense, he is egalitarian: he wants players to prove that they deserve to be playing. That places particular emphasis on training. Players who do not perform do not get picked.

In that context, it is perhaps not surprising that some players — and staff members — were not sad to see Kompany depart.

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There was no communication with his players over his intentions with Bayern. Burnley’s squad are all on holiday and were finding out the news as it was being revealed on social media. Many signed for Burnley because of Kompany, or were looking to leave in the summer because they were out of favour, so it will leave many potentially re-thinking their futures.


Vincent Kompany largely kept his distance from Burnley’s squad (Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

At Bayern, he will inherit a squad with pre-existing controversies. Each area of the team is overloaded with players and having to leave influential stars out of the starting lineup is a problem that Kompany will not be able to avoid.

In addition, this is expected to be a summer of change, during which several high-profile players are expected to leave, including some popular within the dressing room. How Kompany manages any fallout will be key to determining the mood surrounding him.

But it is a move full of uncertainties. Kompany was content in England. His wife is from Manchester and his three children are settled. He was happy at Burnley, too, despite their relegation.

This is a leap of faith for him, as well for Bayern. Bavaria is not only a very different part of the world, but the club brings much more scrutiny and far more pressure. Moreover, he arrives in Germany with everybody knowing that he is not first choice for this job. Or even second, third or fourth.

Only time will tell if the gamble pays off.

(Top photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images)