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What the fans say: Nein to false nine

The results of BayernForum.com’s first ever Monthly Poll are in, and while the difference between the two leading options is only slight, one conclusion can be drawn: the fans do not want Bayern to radically change into a strikerless team.

The question asked was: Do you think Bayern have played better with or without Mandžukić this season? 50% of the voters (9 users) said it made no difference, while 44% of the voters (8 users) voted With Mandžukić. Only 1 voter felt that Bayern are better off playing without a real striker.


Thus, while many are in favour of keeping consistent with tradition and keeping a pure striker in the lineup, most do not mind having a flexible team capable of playing both with a striker and without a striker. This variety allows the team to be unpredictable and to turn around games when things are not going well, as evidenced recently away against Stuttgart when head coach Guardiola’s starting lineup, which did not include a pure striker, needed to change into a system which utilizes strikers in order to grind out a win.

What the fans have made clear, however, is that they do not want to see a Bayern which never plays without a striker. For some it may be a matter of keeping with tradition, for others it may be a fear that a lack of a target man will result in less goals, while some simply want Bayern to have variety, using one system or the other based on the opponents they are facing. Some might argue that Bayern do not have the kind of player to make the system work, unlike what Guardiola had in Messi when he was the coach of FC Barcelona.

Striker Mario Mandžukić, with one of the top ‘false nine’ candidates in the background

Therefore, the message the fans are sending to Guardiola is clear. While the coach has demoted Mandžukić to the bench in the first few official matches in 2014, they do not want to see this turn into a trend. It would seem, judging by the board’s insistence that they want Mandžukić to stay, as well as by the acquisition of Robert Lewandowski next June, that the board share the fans’ ideal. However, it is public knowledge that a deal was struck with Lewandowski before Guardiola took over as coach, and that the coach has been trying out the ‘false nine’ tactic more frequently. Will this difference in vision lead to tension between the board and the coaching staff, or will one of the sides give in? No one can know for sure whether Guardiola plans to abandon one of the tactics, or whether he intends to keep the variety currently present in the team. What we do know is what Guardiola should do to maintain the fans’ sympathy.

Admittedly, although BayernForum.com allows Bayern fans from all over the world to express their opinion, 18 voters is a very small sample to be able to represent the general opinion of all Bayern fans. However, judging by the extreme unpopularity of the Without Mandžukić vote, it is safe to say that it is unlikely that in a bigger sample the strikerless system would become a popular choice. If you would like the poll to be able to draw more conclusive results, go ahead and share this month’s edition of the monthly poll with all your Bayern friends.

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  • MUTU says:

    The sample size is perhaps a bit too small, but it’s still indicative that Guardiola hasn’t yet convinced the Bayern fans that false 9 is the way to go. Whether he succeeds is still open, of course. Unless he changes tactics first.

    • SLahm72 says:

      Your right about the sample size being small, however the eye test or initial result of having a point man with physical mass is clearly visible. Its almost a unconscious decision to become offensive, where the false 9 aesthetic seems to become static or unclear to where the direction of the final pass should go. But I could be just seeing things. I was a big Grateful Dead fan in the 80’s so maybe.

      • FCBayernMunchen says:

        I think that your analysis is pretty accurate, but it is not necessarily negative. Not having a target man can make it harder for defenders to mark dangerous players and stop attacks. However, having a striker often helps to draw defenders away from other players, while strikers are generally bigger than false nines and can muscle their way past the defence.