FC Bayern: Coaching merry-go-round and trophies (1990 to 1999)

The 1990s was a decade of constant turmoil. The new commercial media adopted a different, and not always sports-related angle, towards football and its stars. As a consequence, FC Bayern became known on one hand as the ‘dream team’ and on the other as ‘FC Hollywood’. The intense media interest did have at least one positive effect as record numbers of fans streamed into the stadium and record numbers of kits were sold.. However, the vicissitude of this decade is reflected in eight changes of head coach.

Jupp Heynckes and FCB parted company in October 1991, with former Bayern player Sören Lerby taking over as head coach, but his team struggled. With relegation threatening, Erich Ribbeck replaced Lerby in March 1992. Franz Beckenbauer and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge had stepped into the breach as emergency cover, becoming vice presidents of FC Bayern. During the 1993/94 winter break, the ‘Kaiser’ replaced Ribbeck as coach and went on to lift the league title.

That was followed by the first ‘Trap’ era. Giovanni Trapattoni was adored by the players and the media but success at first proved elusive. The 1994/95 season ended with a sixth-place finish and a semi-final exit to Ajax in the European Cup. Otto Rehhagel took over in summer 1995, arriving with stars like Klinsmann, Herzog and Sforza. Although Rehhagel took the team to the final of the UEFA Cup, he was released in the spring, despite two memorable performances in the semi-final against Barcelona. It looked tricky after a 2-2 draw at the Olympiastadion but the return leg at the Camp Nou turned into a victory parade as Babbel and Witeczek scored in a 2-1 win. Beckenbauer, who had been club president since 1994, took over as coach for the two-legged final and brought the trophy back to Munich for the first time with 2-0 and 3-1 wins against Bordeaux. However, as in the previous season, Borussia Dortmund won the league.

And then Trapattoni returned. His second, two-year spell as Bayern coach yielded two titles, winning the Bundesliga in 1997 and the DFB Cup in 1998. The whole city showed its appreciation when the ‘Maestro’ left. He was renowned above all for his feisty speeches that achieved cult status (“Bottle empty” and “Struuunz”) and he had earned a place in the hearts of fans.

Trapattoni made way for Ottmar Hitzfeld, who was to add to the collection in the trophy cabinet at Säbener Straße in the years ahead. He had an almost perfect first season, winning the club’s 15th German championship, as well as reaching the finals of the DFB Cup and Champions League. The game against Manchester United in Barcelona did not go to plan, with Europe’s top club honour slipping away seconds from the end in a 2-1 loss that became known as the ‘mother of all defeats’. The same applied to the DFB Cup final loss to Werder Bremen at the Olympiastadion in Berlin. The game ended 1-1 after 120 minutes, but the ensuing penalty shootout saw the Reds lose 5-4. However, that was only the beginning of the Hitzfeld era.

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