The Bundesliga has continued to surprise many die-hard fans and neutral spectators alike this season after the current international break hit the pause button on the 2022-23 German top-flight season with one bit of the traditional storyboard out of place; Bayern Munich was not sitting top of the table.
Despite starting the season like a house on fire to the tune of 15 goals in their opening three fixtures in wins against Eintracht Frankfurt (6-1), VfL Wolfsburg (2-0), and VfL Bochum (7-0), the Bavarian juggernaut have since embarked on a four-match run without a win to their name which was capped off by a shock 1-0 loss against their little Bavarian neighbors FC Augsburg at WWK Arena last weekend.
Immediately, concerns surfaced from the club director and former defender Hasan Salihamidžić, stating “We haven’t won in four games. I’m a bit concerned. We didn’t finish several chances and conceded few chances. We can’t win like that in the Bundesliga. We have problems against physical teams. Now there are no more excuses, now we need wins.”
But those concerns from the board level are now beginning to filter down the ladder to the training pitches at Säbener Straße as Bayern players according to reports in German outlets Kicker and BILD, suggesting that players have begun to question Nagelsmann’s personnel selections.
Building on the cited Kicker report by reputable Twitter mouthpiece iMiaSanMia, the German outlet continued; “Gravenberch is another example of performances not being rewarded. The Dutchman has been impressing in training since pre-season, but didn’t get any starts except the Pokal game, which led to him being frustrated, as he confirmed while on international duty.”
BILD also chimed in; “Even though some players are unhappy with their playing time, the chemistry within the team (between players is good). The players are rather looking critically at Nagelsmann - which is a first alarm signal for the coach.”
Frustratingly for the Bayern senior setup, the quality on offer at the Allianz Arena is hardly in dispute after the Bavarian giants continue to add top-level talent both for the current team and in the future, but having a bigger squad may be a struggle for Nagelsmann who was under far less pressure when at RB Leipzig when it came to dealing with squad issues with an RBL outfit that did not have nearly as much quality in depth while being able to keep faith in his most trusted asset on the pitch.
A lack of utilization of the credible young talent under his command could point to one of two issues; either Nagelsmann does not trust players that are younger when his back is against the wall (which seems far more unlikely given his managerial record), or, he does not want to utilize players that he himself may not have specifically wanted to bring into the fold.
If any club has proven that its managerial direction can be influenced by player power, it’s Bayern, with Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti, and Niko Kovač all eventually finding themselves in the player’s crosshairs at some stage which ultimately lead to their departure one way or another either directly or indirectly.
Though Nagelsmann remains one of the most highly-touted young managers in Europe, the mounting pressure on the club which now sits five points adrift of table-topping Union Berlin will need to be addressed as soon as possible if he is to avoid being dismissed from his duties far sooner than he would have planned.