By Tony Attwood
“After six Bayern Championships in a row, the competition is looking for an antidote. And some motivation.”
So (roughly) translates the headline in SZ, Germany’s largest circulation daily, and the newspaper published in Bavaria – home of Bayern Munich. And it tells a story that we might be considering here in a few years time – what do you do when one club wins the league over and over and over and….
In Spain they have a slightly lesser problem with usually two clubs fighting for the trophy, but in Italy it has gone the same way as Juventus has won the title six times in a row. In France it looks like we are heading for a PSG procession of the same time.
But now, even in the homeland of Bayern Munich, questions are being asked, and they focus on the word “repetition” for as the newspaper says “that is precisely where the well-being and woe of German football collide.”
They continue, “On the one hand, it is not so bad to be able to count at least one team in the Bundesliga that is so good that you do not have to be fearful when the team plays in Liverpool, Madrid or Barcelona.” (Honest, that is a fair translation.)
“On the other hand, FC Bayern is therefore far from being competitive at home. On the contrary, it uses the excellently rewarded trips to the international melting pots to feed even more bacon – and consequently stacked in the pantry at home, we find the trophies.” (I couldn’t think of an equivalent English metaphor, so bacon – the literal translation – is what I kept).
Their point is that success breeds success. And so develops what they call “that repetition loop”. And the result is “asphyxiation”.
Now what Bayern are doing and have done is not unique – and indeed not even a record. Juventus is currently aiming for its seventh win in a row, just as Olympique Lyon achieved from 2002 to 2008. But what is unusual is that the dominant paper of the region, and the largest circulation paper in Germany is now suggesting that this is not quite a good thing.
Indeed they speak of “looking for an antidote”. Something that can be delivered to fight off the previously unmentionable taboo: boredom. The boredom of the same club winning all the time.
And they are actually hopeful that the reign of the eternal champions is coming to an end. Robben, they note, is 34. Ribéry is 35. “The chronically broken metatarsal of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has not passed the next stress test, and anyway, who actually trains this sanatorium after Jupp Heynckes?”
From which they perceive “encouragement” for the rest of Germany. Because Bayern, it suggests, has one weakness: the season after a world cup. Their argument is that clubs like Mönchengladbach ( 1974/75 ), Kaiserslautern ( 1990/91 ), Stuttgart ( 2006/07 ) or Dortmund ( 2010/11 ) all knew how to use this World Cup effect in their favour.
But even this seems to be a bit of a forlorn hope because they are now suggesting that the post-world cup drop didn’t happen in 2014. And from this there is the ultimate doomsday projection: “If they succeed again after the World Cup in Russia, the first well-wishers would probably already be known: the fleet footed Rainer Koch, (President of the South German Football Association.”
He could, they suggest, dig out last year’s speech, change the number of times the club had won the league, rewrite the title of his speech maybe and send out the same congratulatory email as last year, and the year before and the year before.
As it says in the headline “Munich
Can England and the Premier League escape from being a clone of Germany and Italy? It was amusing for those of us not Manchester City supporters to see the front office of the Abu Dhabi United Group Investment and Development Limited knocked about a bit on the pitch recently, although the violent attack on the bus carrying the Abu Dhabi players should remind us that there are advantages of supporting a team whose hyper active “fans” tend to fly aeroplanes rather than throw bricks.
And we should not kid ourselves: the Premier League is heading the way of being a clone of the Italian League and the German League, unless some real form of restriction on the free flow of money into clubs is put in place.
Huddersfield, Arsenal, Liverpool and Man U have won the League three times in a row, but then slipped back. Maybe not much in each case, but a bit. What, in my view, we should be wary of is that three is just under halfway to seven, and once you get there, the competitiveness of the League has probably gone for good.
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- Bournemouth v Arsenal and Tottenham’s yellow card bonanza
- Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the dirtiest team of all?
- The great injury conundrum: how can Arsenal cope, and how are other clubs suffering?