Thomas Tuchel is safe for now, but Bayern are treading water under him
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Lars Baron

As Bayern Munich trudged off the pitch after a third defeat in nine days, this time 3-2 away to mid-table VFL Bochum, the backlash was only just beginning. One defeat for the serial German champions is a catastrophe in itself, two defeats feel like the end of the world, but three? Almost unheard of. 

Bayern had last lost three games in a row in May 2015, when then coach Pep Guardiola's side had already clinched the Bundesliga title. With Thomas Tuchel's ailing outfit now eight points behind unbeaten runaway leaders Bayer Leverkusen, the wheels are threatening to come off for a club in crisis. 

So what has gone wrong in Bavaria? Is Tuchel the man to solve the problem? Are 11 league titles in a row not enough? 

Increased Competition

10,10, 15, 21, 2, 13, 13, 8, 0. These are the Bundesliga winning margins for Bayern Munich over the last nine seasons. It's not just that there has been a weakness in the competition to challenge the Bavarians, there has barely been any competition whatsoever. With that being said, notice that the gap has steadily decreased since Julien Nagelsmann's ill-fated spell in charge, with some observers opining that his tenure was the start of the decline in which the club now finds itself in. 

Indeed, last season's title was only won in the final few minutes of the final day, Jamal Musiala's 87th minute winner against FC Cologne snatching the title away from a Borussia Dortmund side that could only manage a 2-2 draw at home to Mainz. Ironically, it was bringing in Tuchel to replace the sacked Nagelsmann which got Bayern's season back on track in much the same vein as he did upon replacing Frank Lampard at Chelsea back in 2021, going on to win the Champions League. 

Bayern's rough patch has coincided with the exponential rise of Xabi Alonso and his as yet undefeated Bayer Leverkusen side, making the Bavarian's very respectable points total of 50 points from a possible 66 look like a failure when, by any other team's standards, it would be seen as a triumph. 

A loss of fluidity and hunger

After eleven league titles in a row, many of which have been by long-serving stalwarts such as Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka and Thomas Muller, most clubs would be able to forgive a blip after such a sustained period of success, but Bayern Munich is not most clubs. Standards are higher than at almost every other club on the planet and finishing second is unforgivable and would most likely mean the end of Tuchel's tenure. 

On the field, Bayern have alternated between excellent and shambolic, with little in between. Harry Kane, the star summer arrival from Tottenham, has contributed with 25 league goals and could be on course to break Robert Lewandowski's record of 41 achieved in 2020/21,but some observers have also commented that the Englishman impedes the team's build-up play with his preference to drop deep, impacting the positioning of the midfielders used to having more of a fixed focal point to work with. The Critics were particularly strong following Bayern's 3-0 annihiliation at the hands of Alonso's Leverkusen earlier in the month, with the England captain managing just 18 touches and one shot on goal.

Further back the field, issues in defence and midfield such as the loss of form of Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich who, along with other members of the squad, is rumoured to have fallen out with Tuchel and apparently willing to consider his future should the coach remain in post.

Defensively, the Bavarians have been error-strewn and indisciplined having conceded 10 more goals than Leverkusen, with January arrival Eric Dier doing little to shore up the backline since his arrival in January and Frenchman Dayot Upamecano having been sent off in successive matches this past week.

Time is running out

The noises coming from the Bayern hierarchy are ones of reassurance that Thomas Tuchel's position is not yet at risk, but there needs to be a change in form. The German coach will know better than anybody that those reassurances don't last long in football.