Fresh from their 5-0 thumping of Freiburg in Jupp Heynckes’ first game back in charge of Bayern Munich, Mats Hummels, Thiago and Joshua Kimmich were quick to praise the effect their new (old) boss has had on the team in such a short period of time.
Some may say it was the Bayern of old – in more than one sense. The record German champions appeared to be back in the groove as they registered five goals in the league for the first time this campaign and picked up where they left off the last time Heynckes took charge. It’s a stat to be taken with a pinch of salt, but the 72-year-old has not lost a game in charge of Bayern since March 2013 and only three of his last 58 with the club.
Besides the extra cheers of “Jupp, Jupp, Jupp” from the Allianz Arena stands, it was like Heynckes had never been away. The only German coach to have won the treble of Bundesliga, DFB Cup and UEFA Champions League was immediately at home in his old stomping ground, and even the players were feeding on his presence.
“He’s very demanding,” said centre-back Hummels on the high intensity training sessions with Heynckes. “He’s been pleased with things so far but is constantly correcting and fine-tuning,” the world champion added, before continuing, “He’s also made it very clear what he wants, and that means everyone playing as a team. We can maybe have a maximum of two players not helping out in defence, but the rest have to be there.”
Right-back Kimmich, who was not even playing professional football the last time Heynckes took charge of a competitive game, has been impressed with the new boss’ manner thus far: “When he speaks, everyone listens. He exerts a certain sense of calm.”
Watch: Heynckes on his special moment
It was that calmness that Bayern felt they needed, especially at half-time. The champions had thrown away 2-0 leads in their last two Bundesliga games under Carlo Ancelotti and Willy Sangol, and that was once again a topic for discussion in the FCB changing room, according to Hummels. “It was brought up during half-time and we made it absolutely clear that we couldn’t allow any recklessness at the back this time, and we managed that.”
Two players who appear to have the immediate trust of the new coach are the Spanish midfield duo of Thiago and Javi Martinez. While the team was off celebrating Kingsley Coman’s goal to make it 2-0, the latter was beckoned over to the touchline by Heynckes for some tactical pointers.
The pair know each other well from the coach’s previous spell in charge. It was Heynckes who brought the Spaniard to the club in 2012, and the former Athletic Bilbao man started as a holding midfielder in Heynckes’ previous game in charge – the 2013 DFB Cup final, which secured Bayern their first ever treble.
In his first game under the legendary coach, Thiago delivered his best performance of the season at the heart of the Bayern midfield. He covered more distance than any of his teammates, won the greatest percentage of challenges and crowned his performance with his first goal of the season.
After the game, the Spain international praised the efforts of his team: “We played as a team, and it’s a long time since we played like that. It’s about our mentality.” The midfield maestro then went on to directly praise his new boss, adding, “He’s a vastly experienced coach, and he shows you that he understands football.”
It’s one game down for Heynckes’ fourth spell with Bayern, and the players all appear happy with the new regime so far. Attentions in Munich now turn to Wednesday’s Champions League tie with Scottish champions Celtic – the competition that secured Heynckes’ place in Bayern’s pantheon of coaches.
Quiz: How well do you know Heynckes?