After winning a record fourth Bundesliga title on the trot, Bayern Munich immediately got down to work for the next by signing Mats Hummels.
After winning a record fourth Bundesliga title on the trot, Bayern Munich immediately got down to work for the next by signing Mats Hummels. That the 27-year-old centre-back was snapped up from Borussia Dortmund, Bayern’s closest rivals, was not a PR coup for the Bundesliga, which is already reeling from lack of competition in the title race. The Munich giants have not done anything to dispel the notion that the league would be more competitive at the top next season. Maybe the Bundesliga honchos should slap the reigning champions with a 20-point handicap to make the title race spicier.
These days the question is only about how soon Bayern can seal the championship.
Winning the league has ceased to become news for Bayern’s supporters. For them it’s an obligation for every manager because the gulf in class between the club and the rest has become too wide. No wonder Pep Guardiola’s impending departure hasn’t generated as much hand-wringing in the board room of Bayern as one would have expected. The Spaniard’s failure to win the Champions League in his three seasons at Munich sticks out like a sore thumb. Pep is no ordinary manager and that’s why Bayern had celebrated his arrival with unadulterated joy.
If Pep feels a tinge of sadness at seeing his three Bundesliga titles devalued, the blame squarely lies with Bayern, who have become a ruthless juggernaut in the transfer market. They are particularly rapacious when it comes to weakening their domestic rivals. Hummels is a third Dortmund player, after Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski, to jump ship since 2013. All of them are world-class players. There is no transfer embargo on capturing players from domestic rivals but to do so season after season reeks of lack of class.
A league without a semblance of a level playing field is bound to lose fans. It seems that Bayern want to debilitate opposition at home to turn their attention to Europe at the earliest every year. Unfortunately for them, though, they have been able to win only two Champions League titles in the new millennium. The behaviour of big clubs is no different in every league but Bayern are able to bulldoze their German rivals into submission with impunity. A healthy bank balance comes in handy for them. Players are swayed by the prestige attached to wearing the Bayern colours and the desire to have a realistic chance of winning the Champions League. In Germany, there are players and there are Bayern players.
There is no guarantee that all transfers from Bayern to Dortmund have a happy ending. For example, Gotze hasn’t done anything of note since he came to the Allianz Arena. The player, who scored Germany’s winner in the final of the 2014 World Cup, is on the verge of leaving Bayern. Hummels, a smart man, would be aware that the pressure to perform can be unbearably high at Bayern. Meanwhile, think twice before subscribing to the channel that brings Bundesliga action live to your drawing room. How can a film be gripping if you know the climax in advance