Almost certainly, it’s very unsettling for a club when they’re looking to change their manager. The fans, the players, the owners can never be 100% sure about what they’ll get from the next guy in charge. If the said team are a rival in your league, then your thought process as a fan could go one of two ways. Will their squad be in utter turmoil or will they get the infamous bounce that so many pundits talk about when a new manager is appointed, meaning that they go on and improve their form? Do they go with a guy on an interim basis? If they appoint a permanent manager just before they play you, will that be a good or a bad thing? No way to tell really, que sera sera and all that.
The weekend in Scotland has shown that Owen Coyle and Alex Smith both got the impetus that they would have wanted in their first games in charge for their new clubs. Both won away, keeping clean sheets in the process so maybe there is something in the argument for the first game in charge going well for the new man. Coyle is the new permanent gaffer in Dingwall whilst Smith is covering on an interim basis, although that could change, depending on what the Falkirk board want to do. Does it matter then whether the new man in the dugout has the gig permanently or if he’s just looking after things temporarily?
58 domestic games into an unbeaten run, despite the best efforts of Hibs, Brendan Rodgers may well have cast an eye on what happened in Berlin when Hertha faced up against Bayern in the Olympiastadion yesterday afternoon.
With Carlo Ancelotti having been sacked by the Bundesliga champions, five months after leading them to a fifth consecutive title, Brendan may well have also been pondering who will be sitting in the opposition dugout in the Allianz Arena come a fortnight on Wednesday.
At least Bayern handled the news with a fair amount of dignity, with Chief Executive, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge releasing a respectful statement announcing the news of his manager’s departure. Much better than getting sacked in a corridor at Goodison Park!
Ancelotti’s assistant, former right back Willy Sagnol has been appointed as the man in charge on a temporary basis and took the team yesterday. They were leading 1-0 at half time through a Hummels header but it could have been all square, had the referee not reversed his decision to award the home side a penalty after looking at the video review system. A ref doing the right thing? That’ll never catch on! When Lewandowski made it 2-0 to Bayern early in the second half, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was done and dusted. Not so. Two minutes later, Hertha pulled one back and then just five minutes after that, Kalou squared the game up. Both goals came from balls delivered from wide areas, something that the manager will no doubt be well aware of. To add insult to injury, Franck Ribéry was carried off on the hour mark. Bayern sporting director, Hasan Salihamidžić has already told the media that the injury “doesn’t look good”. Maybe not for Bayern but good news for Celtic at least.
Getting back to their managerial issues, it was never going to be that easy for Ancelotti. Sure, he had a raft of amazing players to choose from but he also lost Xabi Alonso and Philipp Lahm to retirement. Chuck in managing the egos of the likes of Ribéry and Robben, especially after leaving them on the bench in Paris and it became clear that such a risk was never going to serve him well. Having been questioned about Ancelotti’s time at the club, Robben told the media that: “There’s better training at my son’s youth team”. Oooft! A senior player questioning the manager? No club in Glasgow would stand for that. Would they?
What now for our next Champions League opponents? They’re five points behind Dortmund although second on goal difference, just ahead of Hoffenheim who lost yesterday. Julian Nagelsmann, the Hoffenheim coach is already on record as saying that Bayern would be a “dream job” for him. No less than Bayern legend Lothar Matthäus, has already tipped Nagelsmann for the job saying that he’s the long term option and number one choice.
Thomas Tuchel has been linked heavily also, having been out of work since getting his jotters from Borussia Dortmund in May. He took Mainz into the Europa League before landing the Dortmund gig. He set the record for the most points achieved by a second placed side in season 2015/16 and also landed the German Cup. His reputation as a coach who likes to play on the front foot means that he’ll be fancied by many clubs, not just Bayern. He’s developed the likes of Weigl, Pulišić and Dembélé which will fit with Bayern bosses who are keen to develop their own young talent. That said, they spent for £37.3 million on Corentina Tolisso from Lyon. Interestingly, they also picked up the Hoffenheim pair Niklas Sule and Sebastian Rudy. Anyone else thinking about a cheeky bet on who the new guy will be sat along from Brendan?
President Uli Hoeneß has already been fairly bullish in the media accusing Ancelotti of making enemies with certain players. Dressing room unrest? That can only help surely. He’s also said that the new man will be appointed in a fortnight. Just in time for a home debut against the Invincibles?
Robert Lewandowski was pretty scathing at Bayern’s lack of transfer activity in the summer window. With Ancelotti apparently feeling that Ribéry and Robben were coming to the end of their careers and allegedly not getting on too well with Muller and Boateng also, then there is disharmony in that dressing room, no doubt about it. Manuel Neuer is already out due to injury. Sven Ulreich was between the sticks on Saturday, was previously at Stuttgart and signed for Bayern in 2015. He’s played 10 times for them since then. Neither Celtic full back will see Ribéry, at least not on the pitch, definitely no bad thing! No offence Mrs Ribéry.
Looking back at the PSG game again, it’s clear that whilst they dominated possession, it’s because they were allowed to. PSG played very much on the counter attack and it was a strategy that served them very well.
There is no doubt that when the draw was made, a lot of Celtic fans thoughts that as a Pot 4 club, the Europa League would be a realistic aim. Sure, that remains the most achievable outcome. Let’s face it, the team that played Hertha yesterday was still way above the level of Celtic. The aforementioned keeper Ulreich had a back four in front of him of Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels and Alaba. They have over 200 international caps between them. So far. Javi Martínez played in midfield along with Tolisso as well as Robben and a certain Thomas Müller. Throw in Coman who came on for Ribery and the machine that is Lewandowski, then you know that the defence are in for a busy night. When you can afford to have the likes of Thiago Alcântara, James Rodríguez and Rafinha on your bench too, then you’ll be expected to win the game, especially at home.
Despite all of their millions, it’s clear that Bayern are a team in what you could term relative trouble at least. There is no doubting their talent but can they be got at? Celtic seem equipped to be happy to be counter attacking away from home and Bayern will undoubtedly be under pressure in the Allianz Arena to get a result. With Sinclair, Forrest and Roberts all lethal at times from the wide area, you’d hope that their defence will have their work cut out and that’s before you throw the striker(s) into the mix.
Set pieces could be crucial with one of Hertha’s goals yesterday coming from a free kick into the box and the Bayern defence being all at sea. No one needs to tell the manager all of this, what we know about football could be written on the back of a stamp in capital letters compared to him.
Maybe though, just maybe, this could be a good time to get Bayern. Fingers crossed they don’t get that new manager bounce though!