It might be that Bayern Munich’s problems lie deeper than the sacked Carlo Ancelotti.
In their first game after giving the boot to the three-time Champions League-winning manager, Munich got held at Hertha Berlin 2-2 and fell five points below Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund.
The Bavarians dominated early in the game as Mats Hummels needed only 10 minutes to open for the visitors, recording the club’s fastest away goal in this calendar year when he headed home Jerome Boateng’s forward pass.
Unlike in the time of Jupp Heynckes and Pep Guardiola, Hertha did not look intimidated by Munich and even carved enough space to threaten Bayern’s keeper Sven Ulreich, particularly in the 15th minute when Vladimir Darida duped two defenders but fired wide.
The hosts could have had a chance to equalise from the spot after Javi Martinez’ poorly-timed challenge on Darida inside the box, but a video review made the official reverse his decision from a penalty to a drop ball.
Martinez then could have doubled Munich’s advantage but his header of Franck Ribery’s cross flew inches over the bar and Robert Lewandowski saw an attempt cleared on the line by Niklas Stark.
But Lewandowski was not to be denied after halftime when he beat Stark in the air for Corentin Tolisso’s cross before a weak left-footed nudge saw the ball roll past the sliding Berlin shotstopper Rune Jarstein as Munich doubled the lead at the 49th minute.
Munich caretaker boss Willy Sagnol looked on pace to celebrate a winning debut but saw their fortune turn around two minutes later when a determined Genki Haraguchi sliced Bayern’s back-four from right wing to the left before sending a cross to Ondrej Duda, who stuck a foot out to tap the ball home for the hosts.
Cracks then opened up for Berlin and they found the equalizer when Munich’s sloppy defence against Karim Rekik’s free-kick in the 55th minute allowed Salomon Kalou to collect the loose ball and smash the ball between Ulreich’s legs.
Two minutes after the hour mark, Munich saw their problems compounded as Ribery went down with an apparent injury, and he needed support to limp out of the field and into the dugout.
Sagnol subbed in Kingsley Coman, Thiago and Niklas Sule to inject life into the attack but the hosts held on to keep the well-deserved point they got from the defending champions.
Ancelotti might be gone, but Munich looked as lethargic as they were in their 0-3 loss to Paris St. Germain in the Champions League, a defeat that the Italian boss had to pay for with his job.
Sure, Ancelotti came up short as he failed to inspire his players to protect him, but the players themselves looked wasteful and complacent against Berlin.
“We needed to play with more concentration and discipline,” agreed Sagnol.
“We had a lot of chances and only scored two goals. That is a disappointment. We should have been more efficient.”
Can Sagnol salvage Munich from the doldrums of a club at a loss after firing such a winning boss, or will the board look at the players, or the organization itself to see what they could do to enliven their campaign?