Bayern regaining their shine under Heynckes
Not for nothing is he known as the man with the golden touch.
Since Jupp Heynckes took over as Bayern Munich coach at the start of October, he has reversed the fortunes of the German giants.
Bayern were five points behind then-leaders Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga when the 72-year-old Heynckes replaced Carlo Ancelotti.
Since then, the Bavarian giants have won 22 of 23 matches, ahead of tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) clash against Besiktas at the Allianz Arena.
A 3-0 thrashing at Paris Saint-Germain in late September was Ancelotti's final game before Bayern turned to Heynckes to fix the leaks.
It was a gamble.
Tending the garden and walking his dog Cando had been Heynckes' main tasks since steering Bayern to a treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup titles five years ago.
"My wife and my daughter said I should do it," said Heynckes when Bayern came calling again. "My dog also barked twice, so that meant I should do it."
Training started an hour earlier, sessions were tougher and discipline was tightened under Heynckes.
Thomas Mueller, a player Ancelotti never figured out where best to position, was moved in from the wing and deployed to roam just behind striker Robert Lewandowski.
Javi Martinez was pushed forward from centre back into defensive midfield, where he played in the 2013 campaign, and the impact was instant.
Bayern won 5-0 at Freiburg in Heynckes' first game back.
"No one could have known what four years away from football had done to Jupp," said Martinez. "Now I know: he's stayed the same. He still has his personality - he always knows exactly when to tighten the reins."
Bayern won their next nine games. A 2-1 defeat at Borussia Moenchengladbach in November remains their only reverse after Heynckes' return.
They then won their next 13 games, including a 3-1 victory over PSG in December.
But whether Heynckes will stay beyond this season remains to be seen as he has insisted he will step down despite efforts to persuade him to stay. - AFP