This success is of course a credit to Bayern. They have long been Germany’s biggest, richest and most glamorous team, but for years they have been held back by their supernova streak. Its explosive mix of power players, superstar managers and bickering executives would self-destruct so reliably that the club became known as FC Hollywood. Consumed by infighting, he occasionally allowed one of his rivals – Dortmund or Werder Bremen or VfB Stuttgart – to sneak in and claim a championship.
Bayern’s relentlessness over the past 10 years is therefore explained by its ability to control its taste for self-immolation. Bayern hire the right coaches, sign the right players, wisely appoint alumni to illustrious positions behind the scenes. He has, as Bayer Leverkusen chief executive Fernando Carro said, “done a great job over the years”. Bayern is what happens when the big teams are well managed.
And that, German football power brokers have long insisted, is a good thing. Leaders of the Deutsche Fussball Liga, the governing body of the Bundesliga, have long touted Bayern’s dominance as an advantage for the league. Bayern’s virtue, the theory goes, not only serves as an advertisement for German football, but it exerts a pull on the competition itself, helping to drag everyone along in its wake.
Dario Minden, vice-president of Unsere Kurve, an umbrella group representing the interests of matchday fans across Germany, disagrees with this analysis. “It’s not that they don’t make mistakes,” he said. “They do. They make big mistakes. It’s just that they have such an advantage that they can afford to make mistakes.
In his eyes, there is no big mystery as to why Bayern keep winning. “The crux of the matter is that Bayern’s annual budget is $380 million and Dortmund, the second richest team, has a budget of $270 million,” Minden said. “Then there are small teams, like Greuther Furth, who operate with $19 million.”