Bayern take stock after season turns sour
What could have been a marvellous season for Bayern Munich has ended with the bitter taste of defeat in the Champions League final in their own stadium and a second year without a title.
It will leave club president Uli Hoeness wondering whether it is all down to poor fortune or whether further changes of personnel - either on or off the pitch - are needed.
Hoeness turned to his friend and former German international playing partner Jupp Heynckes to steer Bayern at the beginning of the season after an experiment with Juergen Klinsmann failed and he fell out with the stern Dutchman Louis van Gaal.
Bayern were brilliant for part of the season, inconsistent for a short spell and despite a strong finish could not catch Borussia Dortmund who won back-to-back Bundesliga titles and then humiliated Bayern 5-2 in last week's German Cup final.
All would have been well had Bayern beaten Chelsea in Saturday's Champions League final on their own ground. Winning the Champions League in Munich had always been Hoeness's stated goal after Bayern lost the 2010 final to Inter Milan.
But the dream was shattered in the penalty shoot-out after an agonising match for Bayern who could not hold onto to Thomas Mueller's 1-0 lead with seven minutes remaining, and saw Arjen Robben miss a penalty in extra-time before then losing the shoot-out.
Bayern had 10 players who were also on the pitch or the bench in the 2-0 defeat to Inter Milan two years ago, and some of the young homegrown products such as Thomas Mueller, Holger Badstuber, but also the likes of Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger, give Bayern hope that another chance may yet come their way to win Europe's top club competition.
Yet it's unlikely they will get a better opportunity than they had Saturday evening in the Allianz Arena in a final they dominated for almost all of the 90 minutes and extra period.
"You can't make positive or negative forecasts after an evening like this," Hoeness said.
"You have to let it sink in, then analyse it in good time and come to a conclusion."
However Hoeness says he won't be prepared to put up with second-place finishes for too long. "That's a situation I can't accept," he said
"That we haven't won three titles is a problem. We always smiled about (Bayer) Leverkusen but now we have a similar situation."
The season was a "good" one but not a "very good" one - even though it probably all turned in the end on whether or not a penalty was converted.
"That's the way it is, but perhaps we have to ask ourselves why it happened that way, whether they are the players who can force it, whether we have enough of them," Hoeness said.
"Today I didn't see a (former midfielder) Jens Jeremies who was already biting the opponents' legs while running onto the pitch.
"We can't say everything is fine when we have finished second three times. I am not the sort of person who will accept that. It can happen once, but twice, three times...."
Five years ago, Hoeness went on a spending spree, buying the likes of Franck Ribery and striker Luca Toni, after a poor domestic season with exits from the Champions League, German cup and only a fourth-placed finish in the league, thus missing out on Champions League qualification for the first time in more than a decade.
Although Bayern may want to strengthen in some areas, a similar venture into the transfer market seems unlikely this summer.
Heynckes's job is meanwhile not in danger, although club bosses will want to sit down with the 67-year-old coach, who has another year on his contract, to discuss his thinking.
Bayern are seeking the sort of continuity they had in Ottmar Hitzfeld's six-year spell between 1996 and 2004, and chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge suggested in a recent interview Heynckes could be involved in the search for his eventual successor.
"We have a relationship which can withstand any crisis," he told Munich's AZ daily. "We have agreed that we will at some point, when we are both ready, sit down to discuss the way forward," he said.
Hoeness has also indicated there would be no knee-jerk reactions. "We have to be careful. We shouldn't put ouselves under too much pressure," he said. "We are talking here about a good year, not a catastrophic year."