Q. How has Jupp changed the way Bayern played since their early season rut.
A. The Jupp Heynckes School of Management makes a simple pledge to every player: He puts you in a position to succeed with a clear plan on how to do it. The other shoe never drops with Jupp. Toward the end with Carlo Ancelotti, there seemed to be an expectation that outfield players might be deployed anywhere, which can be unsettling. There was also an expectation that the starting XI was fluid and static in others under Ancelotti. Jupp is transparent in squad selection and not adverse to squad rotation, which is evident during the recent fixture crunch. Even with injuries, Heynckes is not forcing the players to burn out and he is rotating with eye toward making sure Bayern is in position to have it best players playing at peak performance in big matches.
Q. Who would you say has been Bayern Munich’s best player so far this season?
A.For me there are two players on Bayern whose play has been above reproach this season: Joshua Kimmich and Thiago Alcantara. They have outsize influence because of their creativity and versatility. Kimmich Is unfairly compared to Philipp Lahm. There really is no need to compare them. Kimmich is dynamic in attack, even from right back. While there are moments still to miss Lahm, the ability to write Kimmich’s name in starting XI is likely a reassuring exercise for Heynckes. Thiago’s on-point passing, exploitation of minimal space to look for long-range shooting opportunities and smart tackling are becoming the bare-minimum expectation.
Q. Even with their form, does Dortmund still worry you?
A. Yes, oh yes. The old saying that form is fleeting but class is forever applies to a Dortmund squad that will eventually make some tactical adjustments and score some goals. There is class aplenty, especially in attack, which can arrest any skid with a couple of well-struck goals.
Q. You guys aren't going to have another crisis this season, right? Asking for a friend.
A.Tell your friend that the only thing to fear is ... Franck Ribery being unable to accept a reduced role once he returns from injury. His overall passion, performance and service to Bayern commands a certain amount respect in the locker room. Reportedly, however, there was a five-player cabal who sealed Carlo Ancelotti’s fate with a simmering Ribery among them. My gut feeling is that Jupp Heynckes commands enough respect from Ribery, et al, to ultimately prevent any kind of mutiny from happening though.