Former Manchester City winger Leroy Sane has been given a rude awakening at Bayern Munich. Pep Guardiola has a reputation for being extremely demanding and difficult to please. The City boss has built a reputation for winning. But that has usually been down to assembling top players and demanding the best from them. Sane is certainly a top player and one of the best when it comes to attacking football. His goal and assist record is quite impressive for a winger.
The 24-year-old would rather leave the defensive side of the game to others. That could easily put him at odds with his manager as most top football managers require even attacking players to help out in defence when the team is under pressure.
After it emerged that the former Schalke man was unwilling to extend his stay at the Etihad Stadium, some speculated that was due to Guardiola’s increasing demands on the player. Leaving for Bayern Munich was seen as a chance for Sane to wriggle free from Guardiola's grip and walk into a Bayern team that could win some matches in the Bundesliga by just strolling on the pitch. This is due to the quality of the opposition in the division.
But recent events have shown that not to be the case. The Bavarian’s boss Hansi Flick appears to play by a different set of rules. The 55-year-old gaffer is proving to be as demanding, and was critical of Sane’s performance in the Champions League against RB Salzburg last month.
“We are pleased with him, but it is important that when he starts a game, he gives a 100 per cent,” Flick stated after the game. “We are working on that.
“Like other players, he unnecessarily lost the ball a couple of times against Salzburg and in some instances, he didn’t quite pursue one-on-ones. There are reasons for it, and we talked about that. He will try to do better next time.”
It appears that was just a warning with more drastic measures forthcoming. Sane was booted out in the team’s latest game after coming on as a substitute. The 24-year-old replaced injured Kingsley Coman in the 32nd minute of the match against Bayer Leverkusen but was also withdrawn midway through the second half.
The decision left many (including the player himself) shocked.
Asked about the action after the game, the manager explained that it was all about performance.
“When we make substitutions, we have to do it sensibly,” Flick said. “If you see the second half, Thomas Muller is indispensable, Serge Gnabry improved in the second half, that’s why I substituted Leroy Sane.
“We had to react like that because there was no other option.”
With such audacity, it’s little wonder that the rookie manager led FC Hollywood to conquer Europe in his very first attempt. Under his watch, some of the club’s players are enjoying the best years of their careers despite approaching the end of their playing days.
Robert Lewandowski (32) has just been crowned European Best Player. Manuel Neuer (34) has been one of the best goalkeepers in the world for the last year while Thomas Muller (31) has been described by the manager as “indispensable”. Younger ones have also raised their performances.
Sane must follow suit.
But if he had not realised that, the manager has given him a rude awakening. By that bold action, Flick has shown he is ready to take unpopular decisions to get results. Sane must have felt embarrassed but would realise he must give his best whenever he is on the pitch or risk being sidelined.
Certainly, there is no hiding place at the Allianz Arena. Just like at the Etihad Stadium