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While former chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has re-entered Bayern Munich’s inner circle of power in the new guise of an advisory board member, Uli Hoeness, the honorary president, has just demonstrated to the whole world that he was never truly gone from it. Getting rid of CEO Oliver Kahn and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic was his doing, and only tangentially influenced by last season’s underwhelming outcome of just one trophy.

“We can’t make such a decision dependent on sporting results,” the 71-year-old Hoeness told Suddeutsche Zeitung in a remarkably frank interview last week, “the whole development of the club was too unsatisfactory for that.” Kahn, he criticised, had hired too many consultants, involved himself too little with sporting concerns and only called him “five times” in two years — which might well have been the biggest crime of all.

Hoeness had nothing bad to say about his protege Salihamidzic, by contrast, apart from an opaque reference to the 46-year-old’s departure serving the club’s interest. It has since emerged that Salihamidzic was merely collateral damage, a sacrificial pawn in Hoeness’ anti-Kahn gambit. In order to persuade the supervisory board to fire the former ’keeper, he needed to bring back his erstwhile rival Rummenigge and present Jan-Christian Dreesen, the previous finance director, as the new CEO. Neither of them were overly keen on working with Salihamdzic, though. And that was that.

The search for a new sporting director could take “until Christmas”, Hoeness said. In the meantime, Rummenigge will step into the breach, re-activating his vast network of contacts, working closely with Thomas Tuchel in solving key problems, such as signing a new striker and the possible acquisition of a more defensively minded midfielder who could break up the Joshua Kimmich-Leon Goretzka axis.

Bayern’s manager quickly grew exasperated when Chelsea’s new ownership sought his 24/7 input in the signing of an entire, new starting XI last summer. But Tuchel is happy with his much more limited task in Bavaria. Rummenigge and he get on very well, too; the former Germany and Bayern striker is a big fan of Tuchel’s football and had repeatedly tried to get him to coach Bayern in the past. The two men also share a very analytical approach to the game — unlike Hoeness, who prefers to trust his instincts and infamously loved to sign players who happened to have done particularly well in games against Bayern.

Fortunately for the club, the new transfer market steering duo will cast their net much wider. Bayern are still hopeful that Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) could be persuaded to come to Allianz Arena. Eintracht Frankfurt’s Randal Kolo Muani and Dusan Vlahovic (Juventus) also remain on the shortlist. Bringing in a reliable goalscorer to supplement Bayern’s potent but somewhat volatile army of attacking midfielders and wingers is this summer’s top priority.

The search for a central midfielder will only intensify once that issue is addressed. Bayern are interested in West Ham’s Declan Rice and Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong. But firm moves for either are contingent on not exhausting their overall budget and other players leaving. In addition, there might be a need to sign another centre-back if France internationals Lucas Hernandez (linked with Paris Saint-Germain) and Benjamin Pavard were to both leave in the weeks to come.

In terms of outgoings, Bayern would also listen to offers for Sadio Mane. Mane only joined from Liverpool last summer, but despite 12 goals in 38 appearances, they are willing to part company with him if the right offer is made. 

Tuchel’s views might ultimately only result in buying one or two key players. But that will still afford him a degree of influence that no Bayern coach has enjoyed in recent memory. Pep Guardiola did of course sign Thiago Alcantara in 2013, declaring that it was “Thiago or nothing for him” that summer, but even the Catalan had seen many of his wishes ignored. When he asked for Neymar, Bayern signed Mario Gotze. After Toni Kroos’ departure to Real Madrid a year later, the club offered all-action box-to-box player Sami Khedira as a replacement, which just underlined how divergent their visions were.

Guardiola’s successors had less power still. Niko Kovac (2018-2019) and Hansi Flick (2019-2021) both publicly complained about not being heard enough. Bayern, however, have long worked on the prudent basis that players tend to stick around longer than managers — and that they are more expensive to shift as well. Last but not least, they believe that sporting directors, technical directors and scouts are fundamentally better placed to evaluate talent than those tasked with coaching.

The fact that Kovac pushed for mediocrities such as TSG Hoffenheim centre-back Kevin Vogt, striker Kevin Volland — then at Bayer Leverkusen — and his former Eintracht players Ante Rebic and Luka Jovic only strengthened Bayern’s resolve to ignore such suggestions. So did Flick’s recommendations to pursue Timo Werner in place of Leroy Sane and bring back Gotze and Emre Can to Munich. They did allow him to get Portuguese talent Tiago Dantas in on a no-risk, low-cost loan, but the 22-year-old, now at PAOK in Greece, was miles away from being in contention.

As long as Tuchel and Rummenigge are on the same page, Bayern’s current manager will face far less resistance when it comes to tweaking vital parts of the squad. Strictly speaking, 67-year-old Rummenigge isn’t supposed to take on an operational role in the club as a supervisory board member at all. He’ll say that he’ll only act as a consultant and leave concrete negotiations to Dreesen or technical director Marco Neppe, who might survive a little longer in the absence of someone directly above him. But, in practice, Tuchel and Rummenigge will get their way as long as the numbers add up, since every transfer worth a minimum of €25million (£21.5m; $26.7m) in combined wages and transfer fee needs to be rubber-stamped by the supervisory board, where Rummenigge and Hoeness hold court.

Bayern’s eminence grise, in case you’re wondering, will look on carefully from the sidelines. But he won’t interfere too much, knowing that the current setup is only a temporary departure from the norm until a new sporting director gets appointed. Whoever does come in will have to pay attention to the opinions of the old Hoeness-Rummenigge nexus as much as to those of Tuchel.

But the 49-year-old manager is surely shrewd enough to seize this unique moment. As the first Bayern coach to work without a dedicated team manager or sporting director above him since the late 1970s — when a young Uli Hoeness first took charge — Tuchel has been the real winner of Bayern’s power struggles. If his — and Rummenigge’s — transfers work out, his position will only solidify further.

(Top image — Design: Eamonn Dalton, Photos: Markus Gilliar – GES Sportfoto/Getty Images, Tom Weller/picture alliance via Getty Images)



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