Hansi Flick has steered Bayern Munich back to the top of the Bundesliga, halfway to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals and into the DFB Cup last four since taking over on an interim basis in November 2019. bundesliga.com presents five reasons why the 55-year-old, having just signed a contract until 2023, is deserving of the job.
1) Guardiola-level success
Bayern have looked anything but low on confidence since Flick was named interim coach on the back of Niko Kovac's tenure-ending 5-1 defeat at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt. The record champions were down in fourth at the time, but reclaimed pole in the new year and find themselves a season-best four points clear of the chasing pack with nine rounds of fixtures remaining. Three straight wins and an on-going run of 11 without defeat sandwich the only blot to Flick's copybook - back-to-back losses to Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach - while 40 points from his first possible 48 represents the next-best tally in the club's history after Pep Guardiola, who took 46 points from 48 on offer to him at the start of his three-year incumbency in 2013/14. Throw in five straight wins in domestic and European competition, and you have to say it's been CPR at its finest.
2) All-round dominance
A penchant for laying opposition teams to waste is another trait Flick's Bayern share with the suffocatingly good Guardiola ensemble of 2013-2016. Forty-eight of their 73 league goals so far this season have come in the 16 matches Flick has spent in the dugout - eight more than the class of 2013/14 had on the board 16 games into Pep's celebrated stint. They're also averaging three goals per Champions League game, most recently winning 3-0 away to the self-same Chelsea team that knocked Champions League holders Liverpool out of the English FA Cup to give themselves one big, red foot in the door of the quarter-finals. Furthermore, 12 clean sheets and only 14 conceded in all competitions also point to a team that has struck the perfect balance between attack and defence.
3) Restoring old-timers to greatness
Thomas Müller has had a big say in Bayern's resurgence under Flick. When Kovac was dismissed, the Raumdeuter had spent more time finding space on the bench than in and around the opposition penalty area. Since Flick came in, he has played in every competitive match, starting 18 of them. With eight goals and 15 assists in that time, the 30-year-old is Bayern's third deadliest outlet behind only Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski. His most recent effort - the deadlock-breaker against Augsburg on Matchday 25 - came by way of a trademark punt from quarter-back Jerome Boateng, himself another beneficiary of the Flick effect. At the start of the season, it seemed as if the 2014 FIFA World Cup winner had kicked his last ball in a Bayern shirt. Now he's back enjoying MVP status at the heart of one of the stingiest backlines in Europe.
Watch: Thomas Müller under the tactical microscope
4) Making men out of boys
Flick has also used youth to his advantage. Alphonso Davies has been a revelation at left-back since David Alaba moved into the centre of defence to compensate for the loss of Niklas Süle and Lucas Hernandez to injury. Starting every game on the left-hand side of defence under Bayern's interim boss, the 19-year-old has used his cheetah-like turn of pace and predatory sense of recovery to hit world-class level in a matter of months. It's hard to imagine a Bayern team without him, but Phonzie isn't the only kid ensuring happy days at Germany's most successful club. Joshua Zirkzee, who was promoted to the first team in late November, scored twice from the bench in successive games prior to the winter break, and responded to being chosen to fill the boots of injured goal machine Lewandowski against Hoffenheim on Matchday 24 by marking his full debut with another goal with his first shot. Where Flick's concerned, Midas clearly breeds Midas.
Watch: A closer look at what makes Alphonso Davies one of the world's best left-backs
5) Human first, coach second
As well as bringing the best out of the old guard and the new wave of Bayern talent, Flick is slowly but surely tapping into the bottomless talent reserves of Barcelona loanee Philippe Coutinho. The idea that it has to be the Brazilian or Müller has been consigned to the history books, while the suggestion Bayern are giving up on the former Liverpool ace couldn't be further from the truth. Eight goals and six assists in 15 league starts bodes very well indeed as O Magico prepares to bring 2019/20 to an eye-watering crescendo. Among other things, that's someone thing old, something new, something borrowed and something blue - at least for the opposition - Flick has brought to the party. To paraphrase Beyonce, it's no wonder Bayern put a ring on it.
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