Three games in and, if there was even the slightest doubt, the Bundesliga title already looks set to remain Bayern Munich’s property.
Bayern, who have won the last 10 titles, have stormed out of the blocks this season, winning their first three games in historic fashion, scoring 15 goals and conceding just one in what is the club’s best start to the season ever.
Bayern’s ominous start is one that has already provided a quick reality check for those who have aspired to compete with them.
Bayern Munich’s sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic celebrated a success in the Allianz Arena
Sports director was instrumental in the appointment of Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann (right).
And much of the credit for staying ahead of the chasing pack after a summer in which they lost one of their most iconic figures of recent years, Robert Lewandowski, went to sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic, or Brazzo as he’s more affectionately known.
“I give Hasan Salihamidžić the grade one [top marks] for his activities on the transfer market,” said former Bayern and Germany star Lothar Matthäus.
“The purchases and sales that Brazzo has made so far this transfer period are great. From today’s point of view, everything at FC Bayern is just right from start to finish.”
Once the window closes in England next week, Manchester United and Chelsea will be even more focused on their respective quests for someone of a similar ilk to oversee their transfer policies, behind-the-scenes organization and even culture.
The German team won their tenth Bundesliga title in a row last season
Salihamidzic may well have appeared on their radar. Bayern will no doubt be wary that there are clubs in England and across the continent who desperately need what they have.
Bayern’s superior financial power and appeal compared to their domestic rivals is evident.
The job for Salihamidzic and the rest of the club hierarchy is to ensure the advantage continues to show on the pitch, keeping any Bundesliga challengers at bay and also finding expression in the Champions League.
And Bayern’s sparkling start to the season is a continuation of the work the 45-year-old Bosnian has led to restructure the club and ensure it is future-proof.
The process can be traced back to a calendar year when all the above boxes were ticked, the German giants were as dominant as ever and were no further from needing to change the way they operate.
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In 2020, Bayern completed an unforgettable clean win, lifting all six trophies at their disposal under Hansi Flick with a squad that included Jerome Boateng, David Alaba, Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Perisic, all of whom served well during their treble win 2019/ 20th season, the first season after the departures of long-time legends Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben.
Discovered amidst the euphoria of their 12 months of trophies, Salihamidzic planned and made the necessary changes to ensure they seamlessly maintain their national dominance and eventually be able to launch another genuine Champions League challenge.
Some describe what’s in place now as Bayern Munich 2.0, a new, refreshed, hungry squad and a more fluid team that’s better equipped for the modern game.
Faced with the daunting task of finding a manager capable of replacing the towering Flick in 2021, Salihamidzic pushed to recruit one of the best in world football, securing the sought-after Julian Naglesmann on a five-year deal from his closest challenger RB Leipzig.
At just 35, Naglesmann, with his well-known talent development qualities and flair for great personalities, was considered the ideal man to lead Bayern through the transitional period when it was still about winning, but also about introducing a more modern style of football.
Salihamidzic was given the unenviable task of finding a replacement for manager Hansi Flick
After two debut titles for Naglesmann, this summer presented a new, big challenge for Bayern as star striker Robert Lewandowski, who scored an incredible 344 goals in 375 games, wanted out.
After flirting with exit a year earlier, this time he couldn’t be kept and ended up joining Barcelona.
But he hasn’t been missed either, thanks in part to the signing of Sadio Mane, who was persuaded to end his six-year spell at Liverpool and has scored four goals in his first four games.
Goals are also shared, with the 15 so far coming from nine different Bayern goalscorers, including defenders Benjamin Pavard and Matthijs de Ligt, plus an own goal.
De Ligt’s move from Juventus, Bayern beating Chelsea to his signature, is also indicative of a shift in their policies as they increasingly look to target some of Europe’s up and coming first-team-ready players and mix them in with established stars. Former Ajax duo Ryan Gravenberch (20) and Noussair Mazraoui (24) also fit into this bill.
Bayern signed 23-year-old defender Matthijs de Ligt (left) from Juventus Turin in the summer
The German giants also sealed the high-profile signing of Sadio Mane (centre) from Liverpool
The French striker and Mathys Tel, 17, is the headline among teenagers but far from the only one.
Behind him is a whole series of top-class talents, born between 2002 and 2006, who have traveled from all over the world to ensure that quality will continue to roll off the Bavarian conveyor belt in the years to come.
At a time when how clubs generate income from expenses is just as important, Bayern have taken £100m in a window for the first time – another notable feather in Salihamidzic’s cap.
While critics may sneer at Bayern’s dominance in the Bundesliga, many of their big-name European counterparts will eye the way they rule at home with envy.
Salihamidzic is considered a key reason why this should continue.