The International break is always a terrific time for struggling clubs to forget about their troubles. But every hiatus has its end, which could provide a painful reminder for Bayern Munich and Manchester United that things remain unresolved for them at this point, not to say on the edge of disastrous.
Take Bayern for example. Bundesliga champions for 6 years in a row, but following a horrific start (by their standards), picking up just 13 points in 7 matches. This puts Niko Kovac, at the job for 4 months, at risk of being fired. The press conference called for today was expected to be his very public termination, although it turned out to be a complaints festival by the club officials against the media.
Jupp Heynckes’ name has already been written in every article that dealt with the potential sacking of Kovac. Meanwhile, the man who Bayern always turn to at difficult times remains in the background, perhaps comfortable with the role of savior after already achieving everything possible with the club over and over again.
While Bayern rallied around their players and Kovac, Manchester United are heading into a trick (to stay the least) fixture against Chelsea, at Stamford Bridge.
The dramatic win over Newcastle two weeks ago was the club’s first win in all competitions after four consecutive matches without victory (as Jose Mourinho loves to say, his team didn’t lose to Derby County). They’re still only 8th in the Premier League, sitting behind both Wolves and Bournemouth, not to mention their more familiar positional rivals.
A huge test for a club to show it can make a run with the big boys this season, and perhaps an even bigger event for Mourinho, returning to Stamford Bridge once more, a stadium he had turned into a fortress, only to see himself removed from the managerial job he helped mold into one of the most sought after for failing to spark any kind of positive reaction from his players in Blue not too long ago.
A loss at Chelsea, at least a reasonable one, in itself isn’t such a terrible result; Liverpool were more than satisfied to leave with a draw. But in a season that has already turned into a chase after 4th instead of a chase for titles, losing to Chelsea will just stir more troubles for the Red Devils and Mourinho, who can’t be trusted in a way that exudes confidence and belief in his own players.