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FM20 Stories The European Journeyman

Journeyman – 30 – Bayern Munich – Part of the journey is the end

This is one episode of a wider series. To instead start at episode one, please click here.

Man sells his soul to the devil. It all ends in tears. These arrangements usually do.

“Not every man knows what he shall sing at the end,

watching the pier as the ship sails away, or what it will seem like,

when he’s held by the sea’s roar, motionless, there at the end,

or what he shall hope for once it is clear that he’ll never go back.”

Mark Strand

It’s been quite a journey.

At the end of the last update, I had driven away from Bayern Munich’s incredible training facility, Säbener Strasse, after watching my team work like a tightly knit and efficient unit. It was a joy to watch.

There were nine games remaining of the Bundesliga season. We also had the DFB-Pokal Semi Final against Stuttgart to look forward to, not to mention the small matter of a UEFA Champions League Quarter Final double header against Inter.

Could this season really be it? Could I hit the apex of my 8 year managerial career by delivering Europe’s biggest club trophy, coupled with domestic league and cup glory?

I vowed that one day I’d make it so, before returning to Scotland. To leave this football business behind. To experience the frenzied highs, but to leave the game with my faith in it intact.

Let’s get to it.

A 2-2 league draw with Wolfsburg puts a slight dent in our aspirations, giving Gallardo’s Leipzig (last year’s champions) hope of catching us in the title race. Wolfsburg (above) are clearly pleased with what could be a crucial point gained in their quest for European qualification.

A 4-0 battering of Hertha Berlin follows.

Then a tight 1-0 away victory at Mainz, courtesy of a rare Lucas Hernández strike.

The young and in demand Mainz manager, Julian Nagelsmann, expressing what could be absolute delight or incandescent fury.

Next up were Diego Simeone’s Inter. Hardworking and physical, Inter’s men in blue and black are typical of a Simeone side, every player embodying their manager’s Cholismo. Both teams look confident as they take to the pitch at the Giuseppe Meazza, in the first leg of this Champions League quarter final.

The final result, a 1-1 draw, was to be expected. My team were hanging on towards the end, as the Italians’ brute force almost broke down our Bayern side’s stubborn defence. Knowing how Simeone’s sides tend to play, I felt it necessary to repeat the same tactical trick I had employed against Real Madrid in the round before, dropping Marco Kana from a defensive midfielder to a Libero, further protecting our backline. An away goal in this draw gives us something to hold onto in the second leg.

Inter manager Diego Simeone congratulating me on the genius of deploying a Libero to nullify his team’s attacking threat…probably.

We are in April now, and two days before my 41st birthday, our talismanic Argentinian striker José Luis Garavano gives me the best present I can imagine, by adding to his incredible first season with the opening goal in a 2-0 victory over rivals Dortmund, now managed by Antonio Conte.

The talismanic JLG9.

The second leg against Inter rolled around, and a 6th minute Joshua Kimmich penalty allowed us to squeeze past 1-0, or 2-1 on aggregate. An exhausting experience. My beloved old team Lille mirror the 2-1 aggregate scoreline we achieved, and dump out our domestic rivals, RB Leipzig.

This is destiny.

You couldn’t write this! (writer’s note – you literally are, mate)

Before we face Lille, a three point cushion in the Bundesliga with only 5 games to go, gives me hope that something incredible could be unfolding this year. We just cannot afford to take our laser focus away from any of our remaining fixtures for even a second.

A disappointing 0-0 draw against high-flying Leverkusen threatens to destroy progress, but a straightforward 2-0 win against Stuttgart in the DFB-Pokal Semi Final brings us back on course. At least we’ll have one cup final to look forward to, even if it’s potentially not one with ‘UEFA’ written on it.

We calmly dispatch Hannover 3-1 in the league, and move on to the business end of the campaign.

It’s my semi final showdown against Pep Guardiola’s Lille. My treasured former side, who I still hold dear.

We emerge onto the Allianz pitch for the first leg of the Champions League Semi Final. I give a thankful wave to the Lille fans who sing my name, but today there is no room for romantic nostalgia, there’s serious work to be done.

Although Guardiola has made the Lille lineup his own, it’s great to see that the midfield three of Yazic, Vera and Vázquez are my players, along with Regeer at RB, Dahlberg between the sticks and Silvinho up front. I arranged for the capture of Silvinho, but unfortunately I left Lille for Bayern before he could arrive.

So how did it go?

A JLG9 masterclass against his former club gives Lille very little chance of coming back into the tie. But never say never. We must remain focused.

It’s May 2027, and we are about to play in the third last game of the Bundesliga season. We are away at Hamburg, and the stadium is rocking. Hamburg have amongst the most passionate fans in Europe, and if we finished this 90 minutes with a victory, the Bundesliga crown for 2026/27 would be back where it belongs, in Bayern hands.

We did it!

A routine 2-1 win means that Bayern Munich are the 2026/27 Bundesliga champions!

My second top flight title in as many years, I am proud that we have managed to see this through. We would go on to finish the league season 7 points clear of Leipzig.

But this was only one trophy of the three available.

Ahead of the second leg of the Champions League Semi Final against Lille, Guardiola had some nice words for the man who previously sat in the manager’s chair at his current club. What a gentleman.

Thanks!

João Sousa bags a tap-in, in a straightforward 1-0 victory in France, seeing us through to Bayern’s first UEFA Champions League final in a number of years. Sorry Pep. Sorry Lille. But I can’t stop now.

Before the incredible pair of finals we need to face to close off the season, I receive some good news, could there be another trophy on the cards for Bayern Munich next season?

So here it is. The DFB-Pokal final against Schalke 04.

With a decent mid-table season under their belt, Simone Inzaghi’s team had a strong campaign leading to the domestic cup final. They also enjoyed a decent Europa Leage run to the 2nd Knockout Round. The Italian was building a sturdy side, built around a pragmatic approach in a 4-2-3-1 shape.

Could we get the better of Schalke?

João Sousa was seeing out the season in style, as the striker really started to hit his stride in the final third of the campaign. 1-0.
João Sousa proves my point by adding a second strike in the cup final. 2-0.
Bayern celebrate a famous domestic double!
Yes!

In what is already a monumental season here in Munich, my Bayern side lift their second trophy in as many weeks.

Now onto the match we were waiting for. The UEFA Champions League final.

Our opponents? Only our old foe Thomas Tuchel, who managed PSG, the thorn in my side for the entire time I managed in France.

Only this time, he is in his first full campaign managing English giants Manchester City. Lukas Almsick took over the City role when Guardiola departed, but Almsick only lasted 18 months. He returned to Germany to take the national team hotseat when offered. Maybe he felt alm-sick, so had to go back alm (writer’s note – stop it.)

An attacking 4-5-1 with the solid Florentino Luis protecting the back four, while Englishmen Phil Foden and Jaden Sancho look to support veteran Bernando Silva, the deadly Lautaro Martinez and the amazingly named, formed Dortmund striker, Marcus Pain.

The incredible London Stadium is home for this UEFA Champions League final, as Manchester City look to win a trophy that they have thrown away more than once before. They were runners up to Klopp’s rampant Liverpool side in both the 2021 and 2022 finals.

London, England. Is this the night?

It’s the 29th of May 2027. Germany’s Bayern Munich take on England’s Manchester City. The prize at stake? The UEFA Champions League trophy.

In the 6th minute, City’s French left back Jean-Jacques Dumas picks up a booking, followed by his defensive teammate Greg Chalmers in the 28th.

Italian referee Massimiliano Irrati shows an early yellow.

It’s a cagey affair, and apart from Marcus Pain going close with a scooped shot from just outside the post and Garavano drawing a great reflex save from Ederson at the other end, there were no real chances of note.

The second half kicked off and the nerves continued, but Bayern dominated possession in the early part, applying pressure to City’s defence. A series of pinball-esque deflections led to a corner for Bayern Munich. Up stepped Italian playmaker Sandro Tonali.

GOOOAALLLL

In inarguably the most important moment of João Sousa’s 23 years on this Earth (he doesn’t have kids), the Portuguese forward shows great composure with 46 minutes on the clock, smashing the ball past Ederson into the City net, setting up a nerve-jangling final 40 minutes. Bayern 1-0.

It’s the 52nd minute and City are building a typical short passing attack, when Emre Can has a brief moment of madness. Lunging in two footed on Lautaro Martinez. Marco van Basten and I are baffled on the sidelines, trying to calm down our players. Bayern down to 10 men after a straight red card.

Can Emre get sent off? Yes he Can.

The 65 minute mark comes and goes.

The 71st minute arrives.

Jaden Sancho cuts inside Joshua Kimmich’s flank, feigns a cross, and chops back outside of Marco Kana. A delightful dink across the face of goal is met by the forehead of 32-year old playmaker Bernardo Silva, but it grazes the top of the bar from point blank range, and the score remains 1-0.

Silva can’t quite believe it.

Thomas Tuchel seems a frustrated figure on the touchline as he roars instructions at his players. The booming hoarseness of his voice cutting through London’s night sky.

A matter of minutes later, Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson angrily berates his back four, as a loose pass from £129million man William Saliba almost lets Yaya Rosenthal in for 2-0. If it hadn’t been for the experienced goalkeeper’s shot-stopping heroics at his near post, it would have been.

An angry South American man in gloves.

As the final 15 minutes approaches, captain for tonight, Benjamin Pavard, calmly directs his Bayern teammates, as the inevitable City attacks continue to pour towards Alexander Nübel in the Munich goal.

The captain, pointing.

The 85th minute passes by without further incident. Bayern are resolute and calm. Could we really see this out?

YES WE CAN!

Irrati blows his whistle, and I drop to the London Stadium turf at the side of the pitch, my hands over my face, covering tears of joy. Marco van Basten lifts me to my feet as the squad run and cry in celebration, the fans hugging and cheering in the stands.

Bayern Munich are the 2026-27 UEFA Champions League winners.

A historic treble.

I can’t quite take it in.

BT Sport’s Des Kelly wants a word, but I am too emotional to say very much at all.

I thank the Bayern players and fans for their continued commitment and the wonderful achievement, but use the platform to announce that this would be my final match.

I had achieved it all.

It was over.

BREAKING NEWS

Treble-winning manager Adam Lockhart has announced his decision to resign from Bayern Munich and take a break from management.

Before expanding a little on a successful career with humble beginnings, let’s look at the final statistics of his last squad at Bayern Munich. It’s the end of the 2026/27 campaign, where Bayern lifted the UEFA Champions League, the DFB-Pokal and the Bundesliga title.

Lockhart, now 41, has helped his teams Varbergs BoIS, Lillestrøm, Bordeaux, Lille and Bayern Munich lift seven trophies in eight years.

The trophy haul.
A career in numbers.

When pressed for a reason behind his sudden departure, Lockhart simply stated he wished to spend some more time with his family, and did not want to burn out.

In fact, he then went on to quote Daniel Craig’s character in his pre-Bond classic, Layer Cake.

“The King is dead. Long live the King.

I am honoured, but for me this is all over. I’m getting out.

What was true then, is true now.

Have a plan.

Stick to it.

So I’m sure you must have lots to discuss…

…but I have no business being here.”

Daniel Craig, Layer Cake, 2004.
Also: Adam Lockhart, London Stadium, 2027.

Des Kelly stopped him before he pivoted movies to give Endgame spoilers away by quoting Iron Man.

I can’t wait to go home.

In this case it is both the journey and the destination that matter.

It’s been tough, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

Thanks for reading.

Goodbye.

FM Stag

4 replies on “Journeyman – 30 – Bayern Munich – Part of the journey is the end”

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