When Jupp Heynckes met with reporters ahead of Bayern Munich’s Champions League semifinal encounter against Barcelona, it was plain to see how he had earned the nickname “Osram.”
Having been asked about incoming Bayern manager Pep Guardiola’s involvement in the tie, namely whether the former Barcelona boss had been involved in pre-match preparations.
Heynckes lit up like a bulb and shot down the suggestion.
“I admire Pep Guardiola, but I don’t need any advice from other coaches,” he retorted, adding, “I know my team better than anybody and I also know a lot about Spanish football and Barcelona. There has been no kind of contact [with Guardiola] at all.” (Telegraph)
But this is not the first time this season that Heynckes has been more red-faced than usual.
And It’s not hard to see why.
In mid-January, with his team flying high atop the Bundesliga and preparing to enter the Champions League Round of 16, Bayern revealed they would not be renewing his contract in the summer and would instead be appointing Guardiola to succeed him.
Heynckes did not immediately speak out about the news, but after a few days it was clear he had been irked by the club’s official statement, which claimed he had chosen to “end his coaching career.”
“I alone will decide when I’m retiring,” he said. (DW.de)
And after stewing over the matter further he expressed his frustration with the timing of the Guardiola announcement, saying, “It would have been better to do this in the winter break...before Christmas, during the holidays, because of the media hype that might interfere with the normal working day.” (Metro)
He continued: “I’m the boss. Anyone who knows me knows I am the boss here. I have been the boss everywhere, no matter where I have worked.”
It was a speech he should not have had to have made.
Record speaks for itself
From 1964 until 1978 Jupp Heynckes was one of German football’s most lethal strikers.
He scored at least 40 goals in a season on three occasions with Borussia Monchengladbach, with whom he won five titles and the UEFA Cup in the 1970s. Even in his final campaign as a player he tallied 23 times in 26 matches. And his nine-year international career with West Germany yielded winner’s medals from the 1972 European Championship and 1974 World Cup.
Almost immediately upon retiring he went into club management and embarked on an eight-year stint in charge of Monchengladbach. In 1987 he began his first stint at Bayern Munich, and by 1990 he had delivered a pair of Bundesliga titles.
In 1998, while managing Real Madrid, he won his first Champions League crown as the Spanish giants put an end to a 32-year European Cup drought. (The following GIF shows Predrag Mijatovic's Champions League-winning goal against Juventus.)
And this season, in his third go-around with Bayern, he set Bundesliga records for the best start to a schedule, the fewest matches required to win the title and overall points.
He is only two wins away from delivering an unprecedented treble, and in late April was hailed by former Roma boss Zdenek Zeman as the “best European coach around.” (Goal.com)
Heynckes has a record, both as a player and a manger, that should speak for itself. And that he has had to evoke his many achievements should be seen as an indictment not only on the Bayern hierarchy, but also on all those so eager to show him the door and welcome his successor.
When it comes to Heynckes, it would seem football is guilty of an overall memory fail.
Impossible act to follow
“Bayern are currently playing the most modern, contemporary football in the history of this club,” crowed Heynckes in the run-up to the first leg against Barcelona. (Telegraph)
And it’s hard to argue with him.
Bayern Munich’s combination of midfield pressure, counter-attacking wing-play and mistake-free defense has seen them build an imperious 20-point lead in the Bundesliga. And after dispatching Juventus (who won the Scudetto on Sunday) by a 4-0 scoreline over two matches in the Champions League quarterfinals they faced down Barcelona with two of the most impressive tactical performances in recent times.
Heynckes’ plan worked to particular effect in the first leg at Allianz Arena. He succeeded in neutralizing his opponents’ most reliable attacking threats while springing his own forwards for meaningful scoring chances.
Xavi Hernandez—the director of the tiki-taka—was completely rubbed out of the play by Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez. These two players stuck together in the centre of the park and disrupted the very base of the Barcelona build-up.
Andres Iniesta, without a line of supply from Xavi, was barely noticeable over the course of the match. And four-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi, suffering from a hamstring injury, had Bayern defender Dante all over him whenever a touch of the ball presented itself—which wasn’t often.
Bayern managed to spread Barcelona apart, and in so doing rendered their close-passing, high-pressure game ineffective.
Following the 4-0 win Heynckes had even more reason to boast. During his post-match press conference he praised the tactical performance of his players.
“What the boys did on the pitch, and in the tactical way they played, was fantastic,” he said. “We played a fantastic game. The decisive factor was the organization of the team...” (Telegraph)
The way Heynckes was able to shut down Barca highlights how impressive his managerial skills are and how unjustly he has been treated by the Bayern hierarchy.
Of course, it will be Heynckes who has the last laugh.
In the summer Guardiola will be taking over a club that will have likely completed a treble. And as a parting gift Heynckes will have left him an impossible act to follow.