Why Oliver Kahn and Hasan Salihamidzic were fired within minutes of Bayern Munich’s Bundesliga title triumph was a source of consternation to club great Thomas Muller who was forced to bat away questions about his former chief executive officer and sporting director during celebrations. Wasn’t in the least surprised for several reasons, foremost of which was the duo’s serial bungles in the transfer market. The (mis)-handling of Robert Lewandowski’s demand for a pay rise in the summer of 2022 precipitated disquiet that eventually led to his rebellion against the club and move to Barcelona.
It was a catastrophic public relations disaster for Kahn to publicly berate Bayern Munich’s record scorer for what he referred to as greed. The Bavarians suffered throughout the 2022-23 season as they lacked a reference point in their attack thanks to Lewandowski’s departure. As a player, Kahn was the combative type whose personality is perhaps not suited to the diplomatic etiquette required for a position like CEO.
His unsuitability for the role was again evidenced in the mistimed dismissal of former manager Julian Nagelsmann. The fact that the Allianz Arena club tumbled out of both the German Cup and Champions League within weeks of Nagelsmann’s firing, and the club’s win rate did not improve following Thomas Tuchel’s arrival is evidence it was an error of judgement to dismiss the young gaffer.
Lewandowski’s choice of destination – the Camp Nou despite Blaugrana’s well stated financial problems is not dissimilar to Ilkay Gundogan’s decision to swap the Etihad Stadium for the 27-time Spanish champions Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola’s desire to keep his captain notwithstanding. Why would anyone leave reigning Uefa Champions League winners that are tipped to dominate the competition for a club that couldn’t reach the semifinals of Europe’s lesser competition, the Europa League, in successive seasons?
What carrot did Barca manager Xavi Hernandez dangle before the two Bundesliga titlists? Is it lack of ambition? Is Gundogan running away from the intensity of Premier League football? No. Both Lewandowski and Gundogan were attracted by being offered three year contract extensions or interest in their long term personal well being.
Manchester United legend Gary Neville misses the point when he calls for Premier League clubs to stall the exodus of players to Saudi Arabia. The decision by the country’s Public Investment Fund to take over the country’s four leading clubs, Al Nassr, Al Hilal, Al Ittihad and Al Ahli improves options for players. All of a sudden, a club like Chelsea which is blighted by a bloated squad has a chance to offload up to half a dozen players thereby meeting Financial Fair Play regulations. Neville ought to get a grip.