Vincent Kompany

Why Did Bayern Munich Appoint Kompany?

In one of the shocks of the summer, Vincent Kompany secured the vacant managerial post at Bayern Munich. Having led Burnley to relegation from the Premier League after recording just 24 points, a move to the Bavarian giants hardly seemed like the natural next step but here we are. The announcement had a lot of football fans scratching their heads, wondering how a fairly inexperienced manager who’d just seen his side relegated landed one of the biggest jobs in world football on the back of such a disappointing season.

While we would firmly agree this is an unexpected and risky decision from the Bayern board, it is not without justification. In this article, we will explore the reasons that saw Bayern splurge £10m in compensation on the Belgian and assess whether the shock move will likely pay off.

The Guardiola Factor

Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola (Tsutomu Takasu / Wikipedia.org)

As a football manager, Pep Guardiola is held in such high regard that anyone with any meaningful relationship with him carries an extra level of appeal. This is not without reason as you only have to look at the job Mikel Arteta has done at Arsenal to see how exposure to Pep’s methods can offer significant improvements. Arteta, of course, was assistant manager at Man City before moving to the Gunners.

Another of Pep’s former assistants, Enzo Maresca, recently won the Championship title with Leicester and is on his way to Chelsea. You also have FA Cup winner Erik Ten Hag who worked alongside the Spaniard at Bayern Munich and Bundesliga winner Xabi Alonso who played under Guardiola for two seasons. In the view of Jamie Carragher, the influence of Pep is clear in the way Alonso manages Bayer Leverkusen.

So, with Pep understudies all the rage at the moment, Vincent Kompany, the former Man City captain, comes with additional allure. Kompany has even been endorsed by the man himself. Speaking in 2023, Guardiola believed the Belgian was a future Man City manager. He said “his destiny to be Man City boss is written in the stars…It is going to happen. I don’t know when but it is going to happen.”

Playing Style

Success is of course paramount for a team like Bayern who recently endured their first trophyless season since 2011/12 but playing style is extremely important too. Bayern are a team that not only wants to win but wants to do so in style. This is why Hansi Flick was such a well-loved coach as under his leadership the Bavarians averaged 2.97 goals per game, a record for any permanent manager at the club.

While Kompany’s brand of football did not work for Burnley in the Premier League, there is a feeling that it will work when he has a more dominant side. This was the case when the Clarets were in the Championship as the Lancashire team stormed the league, recording 101 points and scoring 87 goals in the process, the most in the division.

That year the Clarets demonstrated some lovely and productive football. They were second top for passes completed and top for the number of progressive passes, as well as second top for progressive carries. So, while their possession stats were high, it was not possession for the sake of it. Kompany also stuck the right balance between attack and defence, allowing his side to record the largest goal difference by an 18-goal margin and the highest xGD (expected goal difference).

A season earlier, his last in charge at Anderlecht, there was some similarly good football on show. The Brussels-based side finished third, their highest finish in four seasons, and posted the best xGD in the division. There is a similar story when looking at the passing stats too with Anderlecht top for completed passes and second highest for progressive passes. So, while Kompany’s philosophy struggled in the Premier League with a weak Burnley team, a strong and technically gifted team like Bayern are more likely to thrive under the same system.

Well-Respected Personality

Vincent Kompany shaking hands with teammates
Vincent Kompany (Erik Drost / Flickr.com)

A big team like Bayern has a squad with its fair share of large egos. It can be difficult for a manager to control these big personalities when they cannot command enough respect in the dressing room. Despite being a relatively inexperienced manager, this should not be an issue for Kompany as he was such a universally well-respected player. Good players do not always make good managers but this is a player that showed the utmost professionalism for so many years. As City captain, he seemed to be admired by his teammates who all looked up to him even when he was unable to play consistently.

Multilingual

Communication is a big part of being a manager but there will be no language barrier worries for Kompany. In addition to French and Flemish, the former City skipper also speaks English and German. The German he developed during his two seasons playing for Hamburg. This will enable him to speak freely with the entire Bayern squad, allowing him to get his messages and ideas across. Again, this is no guarantee of success but it is something that gave him an advantage over candidates that could not speak the local language.

Running Out of Options

Vincent Company profile picture
Vincent Company (Светлана Бекетова / Wikipedia.org)

Although you can make a case for why Kompany is a decent fit for Bayern, there is no denying he was not their first-choice candidate and far from it. There is plenty of truth in the idea that Kompany was the best of a rapidly decreasing pool of potential candidates. If reports are to be believed, Bayern had some interest in the likes of Xabi Alonso, Julian Nagelsmann, Ralf Rangnick, Hansi Flick, Oliver Glasner and Roberto De Zerbi. There were even discussions with Thomas Tuchel to see if he would stay on longer, but these failed to materialise.

Having exhausted so many other options, who could Bayern realistically turn to for an attack-minded manager? You may have one or two names that spring to mind, but few make a much stronger case than Vincent Kompany. So, while the Belgian can consider himself lucky to get this job, this will not impact his ability to seize the opportunity he has been given.

Will Kompany Be a Success?

Kompany’s current deal ties him to Bayern until 2027 so he (in theory) has time to impress in Munich. He will be given some patience but the powers that be in Munich will be expecting some improvements on the season endured under Thomas Tuchel. Our view is that, as risky as this appointment is, it has a good chance of paying off. Title rivals Bayer Leverkusen are unlikely to be as strong as they were last season and Bayern will be investing in players in the summer.

With a more dominant squad at his disposal, Kompany can get the Bavarians back playing dominant, high-possession football that is solid at both ends of the park. His side are favourites (8/15) for the league title and we would not be at all surprised if he pulls it off. The Belgian is an incredibly driven and ambitious manager whose fresh ideas may resonate with a Bayern side in desperate need of a fresh start.