Football

Heynckes' Bayern return draws mixed reactions

German coach needs to show he hasn't lost touch as he attempts to revive club's flagging fortunes

Jupp Heynckes has come out of a four-year retirement to take charge of Bayern Munich for a fourth time, but opinions are divided as to whether the Treble-winning coach can boost their flagging fortunes.

Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is convinced Bayern have the "ideal coach" for now in Heynckes, who will lead the team until only the end of the season - he took over after Italian Carlo Ancelotti was sacked about a fortnight ago.

However, senior figures in German football are not so sure the 72-year-old Heynckes can turn things around, especially given the stars of his 2012/13 Treble campaign like Arjen Robben, 33, and the injured Franck Ribery, 34, are ageing.

"Experience is important, Jupp Heynckes and his coaches did everything right (in 2013)," ex-Germany coach Berti Vogts told German daily Bild.

"Unfortunately on the playing side, experience isn't everything, especially in attack.

"For the likes of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, it's not enough at the top level of international football.

"They don't go into the challenges like they used to, especially away from home."

Germany coach Joachim Loew was wary about Heynckes' prospects.

"On most levels, experience is worth its weight in gold in football, but not on all counts," said Loew.

"It shouldn't be over-emphasised in a team. You also need to keep things fresh and dynamic to be competitive at the top."

Having dominated the Bundesliga for the last five seasons, Bayern have shown signs of weakness this time around.

Ancelotti was sacked following a run of three games without a win, including the 3-0 Champions League debacle against Paris Saint-Germain.

Either side of that thrashing, Bayern twice threw away a 2-0 lead to draw against Hertha Berlin and Wolfsburg in Bundesliga.

That has left them five points behind Borussia Dortmund - the last team to deny Bayern the title in 2012 - in the Bundesliga and prompted the Bayern board to act.

Heynckes previously coached Bayern from 1987 to 1991, briefly in 2009 as caretaker and then again from 2011 to 2013.

"Heynckes and his two assistants are an established team and in these shaky times in which we find ourselves, they are some continuity which gives us security," said Bayern's Germany star Thomas Mueller, whose side face a tricky trip to Freiburg on Saturday.

However, Heynckes admitted football has changed hugely since he last coached.

It's not just Heynckes rolling back the years.

Alongside his two assistants Hermann Gerland, 63, and Peter Hermann, 65, the Bayern coaching staff have a combined age of more than 200.

Their first task will be to pull together a squad that showed signs of disgruntlement during Ancelotti's reign after senior players Mueller, Ribery, Robben and Robert Lewandowski all grumbled publicly.

Heynckes will also need to settle on a tactical formation after Ancelotti fluctuated between 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1.

Ancelotti never figured out where best to play fan favourite Mueller, while his baffling decision to leave out Ribery, Robben, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng for the drubbing in Paris was surely one of the final nails in the coffin.

Tactically, Heynckes is expected to revert to the 4-2-3-1 formation with which Bayern won the 2013 Champions League.

He'll be expected to stem the rot, and fast. - AFP

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