When Bayern Munich appointed Jupp Heynckes to take over on October 6th after sacking Carlos Ancelotti, it was a bit of a surprise. Sure this was only until the end of the season, but this was after Heynckes was ready for “peace and quiet” after winning the treble with Bayern in 2013. He also said in the Der Spiegel interview that he also “had a problem with the finality of saying ‘never’” if asked to coach another team. It turned out he still had that problem.
After Matchday 7 in the Bundesliga, Bayern were five points behind Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table. Fast forward to Matchday 12, Bayern lead RB Leipzig and Schalke by six points, winning five straight (eight straight in all competitions), and outscoring opponents 14-1 in that time. Meanwhile, Dortmund have collapsed faster than a house of cards in a windstorm losing four of their last five and being outscored 15-8 in that time after outscoring opponents, 21-2, in their first seven matches.
Oh, Bayern appear on course for the knockout stage of the Champions League after a pair of wins over Celtic while Dortmund could end up out of Europe by Christmas following back-to-back draws with APOEL. Oh, and Bayern won “Der Klassiker”, knocked out RB Leipzig in the German Cup and beat them again in league play.
In my season preview, I predicted that there was room for doubt that Bayern would win a sixth straight title given the age of the squad and Dortmund and Leipzig would mount more of challenge. Now, Bayern look odds on—even though we’re only a third of the way into the season—to win the league by double digits yet again.
Heynckes was in charge in 2013 in the first of five straight and eight of the squad of 18 on that night in Wembley in 2013 are still with the club (Manuel Neuer, Tom Starke, Javi Martinez, David Alaba, Arjen Robben, Thomas Müller, Franck Ribery, and Jerome Boateng). Javi Martinez has been very instrumental in Bayern’s current run returning to defensive midfield after being a center back under both Pep Guardiola and Ancelotti. Add to that the play of Robben, Robert Lewandowski, James Rodriguez, and Sven Ulreich in goal, and Bayern are full steam ahead once again.
The decisive 3-0 win over Augsburg on Saturday marked Bayern crossing the 3,000-point mark in the Bundesliga and Heynckes’ 500th Bundesliga win (324 as player and 176 as coach). Usually, when clubs (or national teams for that matter) make a change midseason to a trusted hand—it often seems like as Grahame Jones once put it, a P.A.N.I.C. move (past associations needed in crisis). But given Bayern’s run since the appointment of Heynckes, it seems as though Bayern knew what they were doing. There are still challenges ahead for Bayern this season and for long term when they will have to eventually replace a good portion of this squad, but for now, things are off to a magical start.