The return of FC Hollywood? Bayern Munich are in a MESS all of their own making

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The Bavarians have descended into total chaos ahead of Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final second leg against Manchester City

At the height of the speculation surrounding David Alaba's future at Bayern Munich in 2020, Thomas Muller was asked if he felt there was a danger of the protracted contract talks affecting the Austrian's performances. "David is still his own man on the pitch and is not influenced by it," the veteran forward insisted in an interview with Sky Sport.

Then, Muller made a rather amusing admission.

"It's also interesting for the audience: it's nice when there's a little bit of drama at the club," he argued. "I used to enjoy reading about that stuff - FC Hollywood - and now you can watch it live!"

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That particular episode didn't end well for Bayern, as Alaba eventually left for Real Madrid on a free transfer. However, in the grand scheme of things, the defender's departure wasn't outrageously disruptive.

It was certainly nothing compared to the current chaos engulfing the club.

Since the turn of the year, there have been dismissals, dressing-room dust-ups and dismal defeats, prompting talk of the real return of FC Hollywood after years of relative stability.

Consequently, there is now a very real fear that a season that began with talk of a treble might actually end with Bayern failing to win the Bundesliga for the first time since 2012.

  1. FC Hollywood: The origin story

    FC Hollywood: The origin story

    The FC Hollywood nickname was coined during the 1990s - arguably the most turbulent period in Bayern's history, a time when superstars such as Lothar Matthaus, Jurgen Klinsmann, Stefen Effenberg and Mario Basler were making headlines on and off the field, and Munich became something of a coaching merry-go-round.

    However, player power has long been a feature of the club.

    At the tail end of the club's first golden era in the 1970s, a dressing-room coup led to the dismissal of coach Gyula Lorant. The players wanted his assistant, Pal Csernai, to take over on a permanent basis, but club president Wilhelm Neudecker turned to Max Merkel.

    The players revolted once again, though, unanimously voting against the Austrian's appointment (16-0).

    A humiliated Nuedecker resigned, replaced at the helm by Willi O. Hoffmann, while Csernai continued as coach, even if it was Paul Breitner, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness who were really calling the shots. "For the first time in the history of German football, a few players took over an entire club," Thomas Huetlin wrote in his book 'Gute Freunde'.

    A squad has never quite wielded the same level of power since, but there remains the belief that the manager is the weakest person at Bayern. And recent events have done little to alter that perception.

  2. Nagelsmann's time in the spotlight cut short
    Getty Images

    Nagelsmann's time in the spotlight cut short

    The timing of Julian Nagelsmann's sacking shocked the football world, with the announcement coming late on a Thursday night during the recent international break.

    Sure, Bayern's Bundesliga form had been surprisingly shaky and they had just dropped to second in the standings, behind Borussia Dortmund, after a 2-1 loss at Bayer Leverkusen, but the Bavarians had just made it eights wins from eight in this seasons Champions League by comprehensively beating Paris Saint-Germain home and away to progress to the quarter-finals.

    To those that had been following Bayern closely, though, it was clear that all was not well behind the scenes.

    Nagelsmann had never hidden his desire to coach Bayern. Even during his time in charge at Hoffenheim, he admitted that it was his dream job. It was an impressive show of ambition, evidence that he felt he would have no problem thriving in such a high-pressure environment.

    However, at Bayern, there was a feeling among certain figures that Nagelsmann enjoyed the spotlight a little too much; that he believed he was the star of the show.

    Some players were reportedly of the opinion that the manager was quick to take credit for himself, but slow to attribute any to his squad.

  3. 'The most brutal thing I've experienced in my career'
    (C)Getty Images

    'The most brutal thing I've experienced in my career'

    Furthermore, while Nagelsmann built a good relationship with Joshua Kimmich, arguably the most important player to his tactical approach, that in itself became a bone of contention, given the coach did not have anything like the same rapport with club captain Manuel Neuer.

    Indeed, Nagelsmann's decision to sack Toni Tapalovic, Neuer's long-time goalkeeping coach, caused a huge amount of tension.

    Bild even claimed that the January dismissal, which was made with immediate effect and described by Neuer as "the most brutal thing I've experienced in my career", was related to the belief that private discussions between members of the coaching team were being fed back to senior figures in the playing squad.

    Nagelsmann went on another mole hunt in March after tactics sheets appeared in the press. "It bothers me a lot," Nagelsmann told reporters at the time. "The person who leaks something like that harms every single player.

    "What is the person who is passing this on looking for? What does he expect? I don't see what his motivation can be, other than to make it easier for the opponent.

    "Moles are a protected species. Every time you drive through the countryside you see 80,000 moles and you can't get rid of them. It's very, very complicated to find them.

    "I'm trying to find out what the reason is. It's always important for me to be able to look in the mirror at night, to treat my players and my fellow coaches well. I hope this person can't look in the mirror because it's not fair."

    By that stage, it was clear that Nagelsmann was feeling the strain.

  4. Nagelsmann's pays the price for 'lazy' displays
    (C)Getty Images

    Nagelsmann's pays the price for 'lazy' displays

    After a 3-2 defeat at Borussia Monchengladbach in February, Nagelsmann launched an extraordinary tirade against the match officials in full view of journalists waiting in the mixed zone as he made a beeline for the referee's dressing room.

    Just over a month later in Leverkusen, he accused his players of being "lazy" and having a "zero percent work rate".

    Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic also took aim at the squad, admitting, "I've rarely experienced so little drive, so little mentality, so little fight and so little assertiveness."

    What he didn't say at the time, though, was that he felt Nagelsmann was to blame. Indeed, the Leverkusen loss was viewed as the final nail in his coffin, definitive proof that the manager was incapable of motivating his players to perform as impressively in the Bundesliga as they were in Europe.

    Nonetheless, Bayern have copped an awful lot of criticism for the way in which they handled Nagelsmann's sudden exit. His representatives have claimed that their client only found out he had been fired through the media, and while Bayern continue to insist otherwise, they have acknowledged that there was no face-to-face meeting before the decision was announced because their former manager was still on a skiing trip at the time.

    Furthermore, while both Salihamidzic and CEO Oliver Kahn have insisted that the decision was motivated solely by results, Tottenham, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain's interest in hiring long-time target Thomas Tuchel obviously also played a part in Bayern's sudden switch of coaches.

  5. Mane vs Sane
    (C)Getty Images

    Mane vs Sane

    However, while Tuchel has at least put Bayern back on top of the Bundesliga, thanks to a 4-2 win over Dortmund in his first game in charge, his arrival has done little to quell the dressing-room unrest, as underlined by the clash between Sadio Mane and Leroy Sane which overshadowed Tuesday night's Champions League quarter-final first-leg loss at Manchester City.

    Mane has been fined and suspended for allegedly striking his team-mate during a post-match row and, as far as Bayern are concerned, the case is now closed. The speculation surrounding the former Liverpool forward's future at the club is only going to rumble on, though.

    Mane has endured a difficult debut season in Munich. There have been reports that he has both struggled to settle and that his high salary, coupled with his poor performances, have become a talking point among his team-mates.

    It was also claimed that he was involved in a heated argument with Nagelsmann just before the latter's sacking, and while Tuchel is now calling the shots, there is no guarantee that Mane will suddenly become a central figure under the new boss. Indeed, it's telling that he began on the bench against both Dortmund and City.

    Salihamidzic could certainly do with Mane coming good between now and the end of the season, as he's under mounting pressure himself.

  6. 'Exactly what Bayern Munich is not!'

    'Exactly what Bayern Munich is not!'

    For once, Salihamidzic was praised for his work in the transfer market last summer, but Matthijs de Ligt is the only summer signing shining right now, with Ryan Gravenberch faring even worse at the Allianz Arena than Mane.

    In addition, Salihamidzic's January replacement for the injured Neuer, Yann Sommer, proved himself a complete liability in last week's 3-0 loss at the Etihad.

    The sporting director's position is reasonably secure for now, but the onus is now on Salihamidzic, and Kahn, to get a grip on a situation that could easily spiral out of control.

    When Serge Gnabry turned in a shocking performance in a 1-1 draw with Koln at the tail end of January, after returning from Paris Fashion Week, Salihamidzic labelled the winger's behaviour "amateurish".

    "Frolicking around when you have a day off," he fumed on Sport1, "that's exactly what Bayern Munich is not!" Indeed, it felt more like an old episode of FC Hollywood.

    The question now, of course, is what happens next? But with FC Hollywood, it's impossible to predict.

    The only thing we know for sure is that you can watch all the drama unfold live at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night...