The Old. The New. The Leadership Debate.

After Bayern‘s win over HSV on Saturday, my attitude toward writing a post about leadership and tradition has changed. Initial annoyance with some of the comments I had seen gave way to a quite happy disposition.

People wanted to hear what Lahm had to say on the matter, they got it. Some did not like it. So, Kahn talked about it once more, pointing out that what he had already said was done with respect. (Well, I would not say that about one of his statements; the “image” thing still bugs me.) My first thought was, “Cannot he just leave it alone?” It seems he truly does think that he is helping the team. His whole complaint and/or analysis come(s) down to one simple thing, i.e. a difference of opinion. So, why cannot we leave it alone and let Lahm do his thing? (And Schweinsteiger, too, for that matter.) A tendency of the society to put pressure where not needed? Perhaps. But if we say that Kahn has his own opinion, why cannot we accept the fact that Lahm has his?

I have come across an interesting article that describes the main reason for a dispute:

The fact that former Bayern and National Team goalkeeper defended his own-and-worldview opinion is understandable. He experienced it. And that Beckenbauer stands by him and, “if necessary”, calls the Kick-In-the-Butt from teammates the foundation for maximum success, [it is understandable] too. He did that with Uli Hoeneß back then. Very successful. That was 1974.

If Schweinsteiger and Lahm should make “the next step in their development”, as Kahn has said to Kicker, then probably not the one that he has in mind. That would be inevitably one step back. “Flat hierarchies” may be a problem for Bild* and its protagonists, but surely not for the teams who want to be successful. Should Schweinsteiger get in front and shout, “We need the balls!”, or make so-called rants? Ridiculous.

The progress consists of precisely the fact that Lahm and Schweinsteiger  do not hurt verbally or physically their teammates, as Kahn did it at one time. There are two things that are becoming more and more important in modern football: the strategy and team spirit, as one can see with Barcelona or Dortmund, or Mainz. Despite the defeat in the Champions League final in 2010, one can say that it was the greatest year for Bayern in decades. It was the first van Gaal-year and the year, in which quality, strategy, and even also the team spirit came together.


The problem of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm is that they are migrants between the new world of Joachim Löw and, in some parts, the old world of FC Bayern.

*for those who do not know, Bild is a magazine

(my translation, (c) unavis)

The author rightfully brings it down to a struggle between the new school of football and the old one. I do believe that it is what it basically comes down to. Kahn says that his critique should help Lahm. In what way, if I may ask? The critique is based on “he is not like me” attitude. How can that be helpful? We are talking here about two different styles.

Joachim Löw, too, has expressed his point of view, emphasizing the following:

“None of the former national players, now speaking critically in the discussion about leadership, was at his age even remotely as advanced in terms of leadership qualities as Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger are now.” […]

Löw emphasized the qualities of the National Team captain Lahm and those of the vice-captain, Bastian Schweinsteiger. “Philipp and Bastian express and advocate their opinion internally, always constructive and open. At the same time, they don’t think only of themselves but are always committed to the purposes of the team, thus tuning up the team’s performance,” says Löw. 

(my translation, (c) unavis)

I think there is no need to comment on that. ‘Nuff said.

Moreover, another article cites,

“Leading players à la Kahn and Effenberg are no longer suitable,” says the 59-year-old [Paul Breitner]. The transformation of football made sure that  “what is expected and demanded of players had immensely changed .” Dortmund champions’ coach Jürgen Klopp speaks of “ideally five or six players in the squad who are willing to take responsibility.”

Above all, the definition of the phrase “leading player” prompts further discussions**. “The question is: what is a leading player? One who, on the pitch, comes down on his colleagues at the top of his lungs? Or one who can lead a team?” asks Dortmund’s managing director, Hans-Joachim Watzke. Teams like the Champions League winner “Barcelona” certainly don’t need “people who constantly come down on others like a ton of bricks.”*** Also, the coach of Mainz, Thomas Tuchel, warns against “letting oneself be guided by the public image” in one’s assessment of others.

(my translation, (c) unavis)

The original.

**That is exactly what I have been saying, what Lahm has pointed out.

*** Just in case, if somebody is not sure about this expression, “to come down on somebody [like a ton of bricks]” means to criticize or punish somebody severely.

Well, if even Paul Breitner, who is not quite aboard the “new leadership” ship, understands the dynamics, it says something.

Of course, after Bayern‘s win many have said that it was Kahn’s critique that prompted Lahm (and Schweinsteiger) to deliver a great performance. That sounds like a bit of a stretch, does it not? Lahm was fine without Kahn’s critique in the match against Zürich, and Schweinsteiger has been slowly coming back to his usual self ever since the first game of the season. Hence, giving Kahn all the credit for it is a bit much, in my humble opinion.

To sum up, I do not intend to say that Kahn, Beckenbauer, Sammer, etc., are wrong. (To paraphrase Lahm, it is their right to have an opinion.) But that does not mean their opinion is the Truth, or that Lahm & Co cannot have their point of view. All is relative.



  1. “Eier! Wir brauchen Eier!” Haha, I remember that moment!

    Also, I am glad that Löw and Heynckes, read: people who actually count, are backing Lahm and Schweinsteiger up. To say Kahn’s words spurred Lahm and Schweinsteiger to perform better is just ridiculous. I don’t think they need teacher’s appreciation to excel.

    On another note, can’t wait for tomorrow’s CL match! More Bayern awesomeness! :)

    1. Andi~

      As usual, thanks for commenting!

      You have a good sense of humor, by the way =)))

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