The World Cup is going on in Russia, and the German team are recovering after a chastening group phase exit. However, for FC Bayern München and their new coach Niko Kovač, a fresh chapter is being written.
July 1st was the red letter day, when everything became official. The former Bayern player is now the coach of Die Roten, and the serious business can begin. New signings Serge Gnabry and Leon Goretzka are now Bayern players, with the young winger showing off his new red Trikot in front of the waiting press.
"I'm back again." 👍
— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) July 2, 2018
For Goretzka, it is a bittersweet moment. He had truly expected to arrive back home from Russia already a Bayern player, but was still with Schalke 04 when he and the rest of the team stepped off the plane at Frankfurt Airport.
Goretzka will be officially unveiled as a Bayern player in the next few weeks, but for now he and the rest of the World Cup legionnaires have been given some time off.
Carlo Ancelotti attempted to scale back the infection of Guardiolaism, and Jupp Heynckes continued in this vein. It will take some work to free the team completely from the symptoms of possession-based football, but Kovač appears to be the ideal man to do it. His approach at Frankfurt was simple, applying solid defence with speed on the counterattack.
Good old fashioned Bayern values.
Niko Kovač: "Pure Tiki-Taka is outdated. Without speed, possession doesn't do much nowadays, and if the players go far in endless combinations, the possession becomes even more dangerous, because if you lose the ball , there's so much space for the opponent to counterattack [FAZ] pic.twitter.com/vIxpzjIas9
— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) July 5, 2018
Kovač had taken what was a team of underrated youngsters and unheralded journeymen at Frankfurt, and turned them into a trophy-winning side. His taking Die Adler to two successive DFB-Pokal finals was a fantastic achievement, crowned with the victory over Bayern last season.
It was the perfect endorsement for his appointment. After some initial hesitation, Bayern fans are looking forward to see what he can do.
Already into gear
With his younger brother Robert, also a Bayern player between 2001 and 2005, Niko Kovač has already started in earnest. It not just a regular family affair. The Kovač brothers have worked together since 2012, first with the Croatian Under-21s and then the Croatian national team before their move to Frankfurt in 2016.
Care has also been taken to make the transition as smooth as possible. Jupp Heynckes’ assistant Peter Hermann had initially resigned at the end of last season, but is set to stay on in the role.
OFFICIAL: FC Bayern have announced the the assistant coach of Niko Kovac will be his brother Robert Kovac. pic.twitter.com/Kejpej6DIw
— Bayern mania (@Bayern_mania) June 29, 2018
It hasn’t taken Kovač long to get things going. He has already involved the youth squad in his training sessions, and has put the senior pros through their paces. The big headlines are still being made in Russia, but it is back to the daily grind in Munich.
A ball has not been kicked in anger yet, but it looks as though things are being set up perfectly. It could be the start of something special.
The appointment of Niko Kovač is a good thing for so many reasons. To have an old school coach in Munich. To see a Bayern team that can not only dominate in the Bundesliga, but also challenge those who have caused us pain in the Champions League.
— Rick Joshua 🇩🇪 (@fussballchef) April 12, 2018
Finally, to give us all an excuse to make good and productive use of Hannibal mood images and memes. Welcome, Niko!