‘Let’s be open and inquisitive!’
As a head coach, the concept of a team is important to Hansi Flick. In an interview with club magazine ‘51’, he discusses questions of style, professional development and FC Bayern’s ambition.
Hansi Flick: The Interview
Herr Flick, you’ve signed a contract extension with Bayern, becoming permanent head coach at a top club at the age of 55. Are you something of a late developer?
(laughs) “Well, my career has perhaps been a little unusual. For example, I ran a sports shop for over 20 years, working in the shop myself. I took my time back then and wanted to secure my future, although I always knew I wanted to be a coach. I wouldn’t want to have missed out on any of them. I learnt a lot everywhere, and it characterises my work today.”
What exactly have you taken away from your journey?
“The key thing for me was that, at the end of the day, it’s all about the concept of a team. Without loyalty, appreciation and respect for each other, it’s difficult to develop successfully and meaningfully. It's important to me to put trust in people, to have a high level of communication and to convey appreciation to everyone. And: You have to enjoy what you do. You can only be successful together. And I say it again and again: I am very, very satisfied, for example, with the way our coaching team is set up at FC Bayern. The way we can exchange ideas, the level of trust we have is ideal for me personally."
Is that also something you learnt and appreciated during those years as an assistant? That the boss should listen to everyone?
“That definitely plays a part. I enjoyed working in the background for a long time but was always allowed to put forward my opinion. I don’t think it’s any use having a meeting where everyone sits there with their arms folded saying nothing. Exchange creates knowledge. In the past, if we were told every now and then, ‘that’s not possible, we can’t do it like that’, I’d say, ‘okay, then we need another approach’. In my eyes, it should be about seeing what we can do. Let’s be open and inquisitive!”
Does that also work at a club like Bayern where there are already proven procedural patterns formed over many decades?
“Definitely. There are a lot of good things established here. Quality before quantity. Mia san mia. There are a lot of things engrained here that make this club what it is, make it so successful, so special. But Bayern has never before shied away from adapting to new times.”
Before you joined Bayern, you spent some time as a guest at a number of top European clubs.
“During my time with the DFB, first as a coach and then as sporting director, I visited a lot of academies, including at Real Madrid and Barcelona. I spent three days as a guest observing training at Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain. I even came to take a look at Bayern, by the way. I visited Arsenal’s training camp in Austria three summers in a row. I thought to myself: Take a good look at all this! This coach thinks things over a lot - how can you absorb this for yourself? My philosophy was never to copy things 1:1. But I did appreciate getting new ideas and stimuli. More and more.”
How do you deal with conflict situations?
“Appreciation and respect are the basis, and with this basis you can then speak your mind openly. That’s how I’ve always handled it. I think it’s part of having responsibility to draw attention to certain things internally, if necessary. You don’t always have to agree with me, but exchanging points of view and then implementing them in the sense of the big picture is the only way to succeed in the end.”
For decades, Bayern was regarded as a player’s club, where the best players were simply bought and looked after by a coach. Has it now made the leap to a coach’s club where the staff are carefully selected according to a clear philosophy?
“Ultimately, the key question is what does a club want? What sort of football would it like to see played each weekend that the fans identify with? When I was a player, it was all about success. You’d win 1-0 any way possible. Today, winning alone isn’t enough. I think that’s spot on. Of course, it’s about trophies in the end. But I can fully identify with the fact that Bayern now has the ambition to delight its fans with more than a 1-0 win. We should always think about which player fits our mentality. This club is special. And when that sense of “Mia san mia” remains visible to the outside world, that’s credit you can use in negotiations with players who might also go elsewhere. What’s crucial nowadays is that a club develops something, offers something that a player can identify with. The culture of the club and the playing philosophy of a club like Bayern is registered very precisely.”
At the beginning of April, Hansi Flick extended his contract as coach with Bayern until 30 June 2023. Get all the details here: