12:00 PM UTC
Match 19
Game Details
Saudi Arabia
3:00 PM UTC
Match 18
Game Details
6:00 PM UTC
Match 20
Game Details
12:00 PM UTC Jun 21, 2018
Match 21
Game Details
3:00 PM UTC Jun 21, 2018
Match 22
Game Details
6:00 PM UTC Jun 21, 2018
Match 23
Game Details

After 'only' winning the league, the pressure is on Ancelotti and Bayern

It's been an uncharacteristically quiet May in Munich, devoid of an extended run in the Champions League for the first time in six years.

Wednesday's public training session on the sun-flooded pitch at Sabener Strasse had that unmistakable "last week at school" feeling, the intensity winding down before the big summer holidays. There were lots of smiles and cheers from the crowd when Jerome Boateng smashed in a volley in a five-a-side game. Head master Carlo Ancelotti looked even more relaxed than usual.

The casual atmosphere ahead of Saturday's title celebrations -- and a game against Freiburg, who are unexpectedly in contention for a Europa League spot -- belied a flurry of activities behind the scenes, however.

In the club HQ's media centre, a delegation of Chinese journalists were interviewing Manuel Neuer, who is on crutches, about Bayern's upcoming tour of Asia. Meanwhile, employees were busy organising the typically extensive pre-match festivities for the season's final outing, a grand parade of former Bayern stars representing all 27 championships.

Not far from the Allianz Arena, executive chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and president Uli Hoeness were presenting the almost-finished "FC Bayern Campus," a new, €70 million academy designed to improve the Bavarian club's youth development.

"Since David Alaba, none of our youth players has put himself forward (for regular first-team action); we haven't done too well in that respect," Hoeness said. "The board's demands (on the department) will increase."

The same goes for the bosses' demands of Ancelotti next season. As long as the team were winning and fighting on all three fronts, Rummenigge and Hoeness were willing to overlook the manager's lenient regime -- on and off the pitch -- and his preference of experienced players over budding stars like Renato Sanches and Joshua Kimmich.

A single trophy has not been enough to satisfy the club's ambitions, however, and brought his methods into sharper focus. Bayern are keen for Ancelotti to take on a proper assistant coach to fill the void left by Paul Clement in mid-season, and there will also be gentle -- but discernible -- pressure to blood the next generation.

Stuttgarter Zeitung might have overreached by reporting Kimmich's exit this summer as a foregone conclusion -- Bayern are adamant that he won't be sold -- but the frustration felt by the 22-year-old is very real.

Carlo Ancelotti has won the Bundesliga but his performance as Bayern manager has not totally convinced.

A lack of game time, combined with Ancelotti's standard training drills that don't do much for a young player's tactical and technical education, have resulted in a lost year for the German international and Kimmich is wary of a similar fate next season. Sanches and Kingsley Coman are in the same position.

Bayern sympathise and are aware of the problem but have to publicly back their coach, for one more year at least. It is German football's increasingly worst-kept secret that 29-year-old Hoffenheim prodigy Julian Nagelsmann is on standby to take over in 2018, when Bayern's transition will be even more drastic following the likely departures of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.

In the meantime, a decision has been made to strengthen the squad with at least one marquee signing, to compensate for the fact that Ancelotti has not shown himself much as mentor for young players needing direction and practical advice.

In addition, his reliance on individual quality, over and above tactical sophistication, make the recruitment of new, instant regulars a must. Just keeping the same level of quality will be hard enough for Bayern after the retirement of Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso.

Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez and midfielder Leon Goretzka of Schalke 04 are seen as realistic, suitable targets. Sanchez fits the bill as a versatile forward who can play on the flanks, either in place of Robert Lewandowski or just off him. Bayern are confident that Arsenal will allow him to leave for a reasonable price, rather than see him strengthen the ranks of a Premier League rival or leave for free in 2018.

Goretzka, meanwhile, is regarded as strong-willed and ultra-professional, the sort of player who can buy into Bayern's win-at-all-cost mentality and add to the ranks of key homegrown personnel.

One remaining, perhaps underestimated problem, is the absence of a sporting director. Bayern don't need someone doing scouting -- that's the job of technical director Michael Reschke -- nor a clever negotiator: Rummenigge and Hoeness are perfectly capable themselves.

What's missing is a link between the board and the team, however; someone who identifies problems and deals with them before they become public. Matthias Sammer, derided in some quarters for allegedly doing very little, was great at solving conflicts and negotiating between the various parties.

Kimmich's unhappiness, as well as Boateng's reported displeasure with sitting on the bench for some games, could and should have been handled much better internally. Ancelotti's hands-off approach, in particular, could have done well with a "bad cop" counterweight.

As things stand, there's a vacuum, which encourages disgruntled players to make their displeasure known via off-the-record briefings. That sense of disquiet will continue to dog Bayern in the current set-up and the static can only effectively be drowned out by the virtually impossible: Wins in all competitions.

Nobody is under any illusion that the sun will continue shining at Sabener Strasse forever. 2017-18 could be interesting and rather difficult.

Raphael Honigstein is ESPN FC's German football expert and author of "Bring the Noise: The Jurgen Klopp Story." Follow: @honigstein


Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.