By Oliver Trust
BERLIN, Dec. 23 (Xinhua) -- Bayern Munich and coach Niko Kovac have found the path back to success. But coach Niko Kovac and several players had to go through hard times to get there.
After five consecutive victories and the club's move to the second position behind Bundesliga leader Borussia Dortmund, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge praised the newly achieved sense of community of team and coach.
"Discussions took place between coach and team. This helped both sides to get together in the end," the former striker commented.
Rummenigge praised the Bavarian's crisis management. Not only coach and team were involved in the debate, but also Rummenigge and president Uli Hoeness. Hoeness talked to Thomas Mueller, Robert Lewandowski, and other key figures to get everyone's feet behind the line.
As Rummenigge announced, Bayern will continue rejuvenating his squad. "We will be successful, and Bayern's colours will soon shine again," the 63-year-old emphasized.
Who are the winners in Bayern's squad and who are the ones left behind? And: What are the reasons for Bayern's turnaround?
Kovac's most significant action was to abandon rotation. Mid-November, the former Croatian national coach, was in danger losing his job. The former midfielder changed his tactical approach. A back row of four with a double six in front gave the side stability.
Former right back Joshua Kimmich moved forward to midfield to join either Leon Goretzka, Thiago or Javi Martinez.
Placing Mueller right behind spearhead Lewandowski next to strong wings increased the team's options. "We do much better than before as we have more options up front," Lewandowski said.
Golden agers such as Franck Ribery (35) and Arjen Robben (34) accepted their new role as part-time workers. While Robben announced to depart at the end of the season, Ribery is still hoping to be rewarded with a one-year extension.
Having scoring two goals as man of the match against Eintracht Frankfurt (3-0) Ribery said he is hoping to stay. Most likely Ribery will have to leave as successors such as Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry are waiting to take over.
Ribery and Robben might be mentioned among the winners. Mueller, Lewandowski have survived a personal crisis. Kimmich is happy to have returned to his favourite position in midfield.
Defender Niklas Suele replaced Mats Hummels in Bayern's central defense.
Talking about Hummels means talking about the losers of Bayern's changes. The German international lost his place and is said to consider leaving. Next to Hummels midfielder James Rodriguez is talking about a near departure. "If I don't get playing minutes, I will leave," the Colombian star said.
Martinez lost his place in the first eleven and had to accept only to be one of the candidates for substitution. German international Jerome Boateng is no longer undisputed. Like Hummels, the 30-year-old lost his place as a regular.
What do the changes mean for the future?
Kovac has strengthened his position but still needs to deliver satisfying results. The outcome of the 2018/2019 Bundesliga season and his team's performance in the Champions League will decide about his job. The last 16-round duel against Premier League leader Liverpool FC and its German coach Juergen Klopp is going to be his biggest challenges. "Confidence is back, we believe we can win the national title," Kovac said.
It will be one of Rummenigge' and Hoeness' main topics to make up their mind about the man who is supposed to coach the side over the next years.