There is a profound force that has shaped German soccer for decades. Even before economic factors elevated Bayern to a position of unhealthy dominance over German soccer, they had “Bayern-dusel” – Bayern-luck. Again and again things would go their way just when they needed them to, a sense that manifested most obviously in the number of last-minute winners they always seemed to score.
English soccer has for years also been shaped by a weird force, the feeling that events would follow a certain course no matter the efforts of those on the pitch: that of “Spursiness”. Was there a comical or inept or, ideally, comically inept way for Tottenham to mess things up? Then it would happen, whether it meant the squad going down with food poisoning before a key game after (supposedly) eating a dodgy lasagne in 2006, laughable defending at a vital time or a collective failure of nerve. “This,” as Giorgio Chiellini put it succinctly after inspiring a Juventus heist away to Spurs in the Champions League in 2018, “is the history of the Tottenham.”
Bayern always win; Tottenham always lose. Which means these next few months are likely to be very confusing for Harry Kane, a player who spent 19 years being steeped in Spursiness before moving to Bayern for £100m ($127m) plus add-ons last week. He is Tottenham’s and England’s all-time leading scorer. He is the second top-scorer in Premier League history. He has played in a Champions League final, a European Championship final and two League Cup finals. And yet he has won nothing. How Spursy is he? In his career, he has scored 64 of the 75 penalties he has taken and he has tended not to miss the key ones; only once has his side ever lost a game in which he missed a penalty. But it’s an indelible marker of his Spursiness that that should have been the World Cup quarter-final for England against France last year, the one that mattered most of all.
Kane’s transfer wasn’t completed until the early hours on Friday, but he was eligible to play in the German Super Cup for Bayern against RB Leipzig on Saturday. It could have been the perfect start, a chance to brush off his Spursiness by winning a trophy in his very first game after leaving the club. Bayern lost 3-0. At which a lot of assumptions had to be reassessed. Everybody had thought that Kane’s Spursiness would evaporate on contact with Bayern-dusel; but what if it’s the other way round?
The defeat wasn’t Kane’s fault. Leipzig already led 2-0 by the time he was introduced from the bench. The issues at Bayern were apparent last season, which was why – in a classic example of Bayern-dusel – they only won the title on the final day as Jamal Musiala scored an 89th-minute winner away to Köln as Borussia Dortmund failed to beat Mainz at home. Of the 11 successive titles they have won, this was the least convincing, which is a major reason Bayern have broken with usual policy to smash their transfer record and sign a major star.
Doubts persist over the decision to sack Julian Nagelsmann as manager at the end of March, when Bayern were top of the table and had just beaten Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 of the Champions League. The club hierarchy, unimpressed by performances – and swayed perhaps by a sense that a manager who turned up to training on a skateboard wasn’t for them – appointed Thomas Tuchel when it seemed Tottenham might be poised to move for him. That could be seen as an admirably ruthless move – and given how bad PSG were in that tie, eliminating them was perhaps not the achievement it appeared – but it did demand Tuchel be an almost instant success. As it is, he has lost five of his 13 games in charge; Nagelsmann lost only 10 of 84.
Kane should be the ideal striker for Bayern, not just a fine all-round forward and supreme finisher, but somebody who relishes dropping deep and feeding runners going beyond him. Bayern have a fleet of those runners: perm two or three from Musiala, Kingsley Coman, Leroy Sané and Serge Gnabry.
But with Bayern looking vulnerable for the first time in a long time, there is pressure. “It was just not enough in every department,” Tuchel said after the defeat to Leipzig. “There is no relation between our form and attitude going into the game and our performance on the pitch.” Given the unexpected nature of his appointment and the unease over Bayern splashing around $190m to sign not just Kane but also the central defender Kim Min-jae from Napoli, there is unlikely to be sympathy from the German media if Bayern start the season slowly.
Ultimately, Bayern’s wealth, the fact that their revenues outstrip those of their nearest rivals Dortmund by such a margin, should prove decisive. Spursiness is a powerful force, but surely not enough to prevent Bayern winning a 12th straight title and handing Kane a medal at last. But that is expected, taken almost for granted. The real test will be the Champions League – and while performances will surely improve as Kane settles, Saturday’s defeat suggests Bayern are, at the moment, some way off being able to challenge for that.
Source : The Guardian