Bayern Munich’s Bundesliga season was another reminder of how to run a football club. After a slow start under Carlo Ancelotti, changes were made, producing results that meant the Bavarians spring-boarded to a record sixth consecutive title.
But that was 2017/18, so what does the future hold for the reigning Bundesliga champions? bundesliga.com looks back at the season just gone, and ahead to the campaign to come as Bayern embark on a new era under Niko Kovac.
Watch: Bayern Munich’s 2017/18 season review!
In a nutshell, it was the season of James Rodriguez, Robert Lewandowski and Jupp Heynckes at Bayern. Sitting five points behind Borussia Dortmund after seven games meant Ancelotti's time was up, with Heynckes coming out of retirement to rescue his former employers.
What was: 2017/18
An incredible run of dominance in which Bayern only lost three times in the following 26 league games brought a 27th Bundesliga title, by a lead of 21 points ahead of their nearest rivals Schalke. But despite this show of domestic power, it was still a disappointing season for the club that can't rest until its trophy cabinet is overflowing.
A UEFA Champions League semi-final defeat to eventual winners Real Madrid was a bitter pill to swallow for Heynckes and his team. Bayern were widely regarded as the better team over the two legs, but came up short in a 4-3 aggregate loss, which was then followed by DFB Cup disappointment at the hands of Kovac and Eintracht Frankfurt.
Facing Frankfurt, Bayern were clear favourites to clinch their first domestic cup title since 2016, but in their final game under their 73-year-old coach, the champions were outclassed by the high-flying Eagles who shocked all those watching in a 3-1 win. It was Kovac's final game as coach of Frankfurt, as he now embarks on his next career step, with Bayern.
What now: 2018/19
The man who helped keep the DFB Cup out of Bayern hands is now the very man entrusted with placing it in theirs. After two successful seasons with Frankfurt, taking them from relegation fodder to UEFA Europa League qualification, Kovac has taken a leap up after being called upon by Bayern.
With an entire summer of planning, signing and selling players and developing his gameplan, we only know a handful of things for certain at this point in terms of personnel. Serge Gnabry will be in Bayern colours next season after his loan spell with Hoffenheim ended, while Renato Sanches is also returning to the club and will not be leaving again, as confirmed by executive chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
The biggest name so far, though, is Leon Goretzka. The Germany international will join from Schalke on a free transfer to provide even more competition for places in midfield. He and Kovac are part of a reformed management scheme from the board at Bayern, who want German to once again become to root of the squad and the club.
One player who will almost certainly be unaffected by this tilt to German is James. The South American superstar stole the Bundesliga show in his debut season, breathing new life into Bayern’s attacking play with seven goals and eleven assists proof of his outstanding performances in 2017/18.
He'll be entering the second season of his loan from Madrid and with Bayern already keen on keeping him permanently, another campaign of Colombian class would most certainly be welcome.
Change is afoot
"It's clear, one trophy isn't enough," Thomas Müller said when discussing last season, while David Alaba insists that "Bayern must make changes" in order to challenge for the treble that the club so yearns for.
The 2011/12 season was the last time Bayern had such a similar end of season, losing both the Bundesliga title and DFB Cup final to Dortmund before being defeat by Chelsea in the Champions League. "This defeat hurt the whole club and the team wanted to make amends," said Toni Kroos, who was part of that Bayern squad.
There's a similar feeling now with Bayern falling short on two fronts at the end of the season. The need for change has been spoken about already, with vengeance sure to become a fuel for the club’s 2018/19 season. With a hard-hitting, ruthless coach like Kovac in charge, be sure that Bayern will be ready for battle no matter the competition.