Pal Csernai, FC Bayern coach

Remembering Pal Csernai

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Today, 21 October, marks what would have been Pal Csernai’s 90th birthday. It was under his management that Bayern ended their six-year wait for a Bundesliga title in 1980, reached the 1982 European Cup final against Aston Villa, and it was his system of zonal marking that allowed ‘Breitnigge’ – the duo of Paul Breitner and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge – to flourish.

The Hungarian defended Bayern’s Bundesliga title in 1981, as well as winning the 1982 DFB Cup with a memorable 4-2 win over Nürnberg. He had come to Munich as assistant to Gyula Lorant, who he succeeded in 1979 after a famous revolution where the team, led by captain Sepp Maier, protested against plans to bring in Max Merkel as coach. President Wilhelm Neudecker would resign afterwards, with Willi O. Hoffmann taking over. It heralded the start of Uli Hoeneß’s time as general manager as Bayern started to return to its former glory. Csernai further developed the zonal marking of predecessor Lorant, with the ‘Pal system’ becoming a footballing term. He was at first replaced in 1983 by his assistant Reinhard Saftig before Udo Lattek returned to the helm. Csernai would go on to win the Portuguese Cup with Benfica in 1985.

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