Could Hansi Flick end up with a better record at Bayern Munich than three-time Bundesliga winner Pep Guardiola? The way he has started out at the champions suggests as much.
It’s already clear that Flick is a special coach. Having taken over from Niko Kovac in November, he successfully guided Bayern - at one stage seventh in the standings and seven points down on the leaders - to their eighth league title in a row.
In doing so Flick immediately wove his name to Bayern’s rich tapestry and it wasn’t just the club’s winning tradition that he upheld, but also the manner in which he did so.
"For many years now, FC Bayern have stood for possession, dominance on the ball, a strong positional game and lots of goals," Bayern’s long-standing CEO, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge explained to Germany's leading sports magazine, kicker. "Hansi Flick has brought that philosophy back to the team.
Watch: Bayern Munich's journey to the 2019/20 Meisterschale
"Tactically, the team is like it was under Louis van Gaal, Jupp Heynckes or Pep Guardiola. Flick is key to that. He has a clear game plan, a very good connection with the players, and deals with the press very well."
Rummenigge is clearly an astute man and oversaw the tenures of each of Flick’s aforementioned predecessors, so he clearly knows what he’s talking about. The numbers back him up, too.
After 24 Bundesliga games in charge, Flick has recorded 21 wins, one draw and just two defeats. In Bayern’s history, only current Manchester City head coach Guardiola - who won the league in each of his three seasons in Bavaria between 2013 and 2016 - has a better record.
The Spaniard won 22 games and drew two of his first 24 league matches in Germany. Guardiola’s team conceded only 11 goals in that time – compared to 16 for Flick – but the current Bayern coach set a new record with 75 goals in 24 matches, three more than Guardiola.
Guardiola’s was a superb Bayern incarnation, and in two of his three seasons at the club his side lost just two league games. But in a sign of how well Flick has fared so far, if the former Germany assistant manages to continue in a similar vein over the course of a full season, his side would outdo even Guardiola’s.
With 29 wins from 34 matches in 2013/14, Bayern had a win rate of 85 percent in Guardiola’s first year in Munich. Over a 24-match sample, Flick’s score is 87.5 in that same category – with both teams averaging 2.7 points per game.
Guardiola’s side managed 94 goals in 2013/14 – 2.8 per game – but Flick’s Bayern set a new record by averaging 3.1 goals every matchday during his time in charge thus far.
His goals against record compares favourably with Guardiola at 0.7 per game too, although the former Barcelona coach watched his side concede only 17 and 18 goals in 2014/15 and 2015/16 respectively – at a rate of just 0.5 per game.
Both Lewandowski (aged 25-27 during the Guardiola era) and Müller (23-26) excelled under the Spaniard and the Poland captain’s 30-goal haul, and Müller’s 27 combined goals (20 goals/seven assists) were their respective Bundesliga bests in 2015/16 in what was Guardiola’s final season.
Watch: All of Lewandowski's 34 league goals in 2019/20
That was until Lewandowski hit 34 goals last term - including 20 in 24 under Flick - and Müller posted a single-season record 21 Bundesliga assists (21), while hitting eight goals himself for a combined career best of 29. In the case of the latter, that was despite being largely a fringe player under Kovac, with 17 of Müller’s goal contributions coming under Flick’s tenure.
It’s easy to see why Lewandowski praised Flick for trying “to understand all players” in order to get the best out of them, and that Müller echoed those sentiments.
“Hansi is doing a fantastic job as coach and has a massive influence on the team thanks to his man-management qualities,” said Müller at the turn of the new year.
Watch: All of Müller's goals and assists in 2019/20
Guardiola is equally well-known for his nurturing nature and, as well as his three league titles, he won the DFB Cup twice, a feat Flick is already only one from matching after Bayern beat Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 in this year’s decider.
Flick already has the chance to emulate Heynckes in just a few weeks' time if he can do what Guardiola couldn’t by leading Bayern to a league, cup, and UEFA Champions League treble.
Bayern will rightly be considered one of the favourites for the revamped Champions League, too, having racked up seven straight wins (four of which came under Flick) by an aggregate score of 27-5. Not only that, but their six wins from six - with a goal difference of +19 - represent the best group stage in Champions League history.
Their handsome 3-0 last-16 first leg win over Chelsea in London sets them up perfectly for the Allianz Arena return leg and with Flick’s Bayern motoring along under the 55-year-old’s charge, there is a distinct possibility that he could soon surpass both Guardiola and Heynckes inside his first year at the club.