Uli Hoeness has vowed to back under-pressure coach Niko Kovac to the bitter end, but the Bayern president’s patience will surely be tested after the champions failed to win for the fourth straight league game at home.File this rollercoaster 3-3 draw under things that never used to happen to Bayern Munich. Leading by two goals twice and seemingly cruising to victory against relegation strugglers Fortuna Düsseldorf, Bayern Munich snatched a 3-3 draw from the jaws of victory, despite a goal in each half from the impressive Thomas Müller.
Jerome Boateng, tormented by Düsseldorf's hat-trick hero Dodi Lukebakio all afternoon, disappeared straight down the tunnel after the final whistle, his face etched in disappointment and frustration after Fortuna grabbed a last-gasp equalizer to plunge Bayern into full-blown crisis mode. The rest of Boateng's weary colleagues mustered up the necessary courage to show their brief appreciation to a shocked Südkurve at the end of the game.
"We are definitely conceding too many goals – 17 against in 12 games," said a crestfallen Niko Kovac afterwards. "We are always making individual mistakes, you cannot prevent that as a coach. Mistakes lead to goals, but there's big or small mistakes and we are constantly mistaking big mistakes."
Kovac's predecessor Jupp Heynckes stressed the importance of keeping clean sheets when answering Uli Hoeness's emergency call last season. Under Kovac, Bayern have already shipped more goals than any other side in the top five. And for the first time in a long time, Bayern's defensive concern includes the goalkeeper position. Manuel Neuer doesn't currently seem to be able to catch a break, nor make a crucial save that matters, while back-up keeper Sven Ulreich hasn't played all season.
Niklas Süle did fire Bayern into the lead but alongside Boateng, the German internationals were often left embarrassed by the searing pace of Lukebakio. The 21-year-old, on loan from Premier League side Watford, produced finishing of the highest order to score three superb goals and secure Düsseldorf a precious point.
A contrast in fortunes
Compare Lukebakio's Fortuna to the luckless Robert Lewandowski. The Polish striker endured a wretched afternoon, missing crucial chances to put Bayern 3-0 up, and an even worse miss to stretch the lead to 4-2 in the final minute, firing high into the Munich night sky when it seemed easier to score.
Kovac rued his top scorer's wastefulness: "Lewy had a 1000 per cent chance to make it 4-2, that would have been enough."
"You can't imagine how bad I am feeling – it's worse than mere upset," Kovac said as he went on to blast his side's defending at length.
"I am anything but happy. I cannot understand how we didn't take our chances, but what's worse is the manner we defended for all three goals we conceded. You cannot afford to defend like that in the Bundesliga… Looking at the three goals, twice we should have been nearer to our goal, and for the other we cannot afford to play offside… We have a concentration problem – for 90 minutes we played fine, but we should never, never in our lives, be conceding these goals."
Club president Uli Hoeness cut an equally frustrated figure afterwards, labelling the mistakes amateur and outrageous. "The first goal – I've only ever seen such things in slapstick films. This is not on," Hoeness said, bluntly.
Borussia Dortmund's narrow victory over Mainz, stretches their lead over Bayern to nine points – which might as well be ten given Dortmund's vastly superior goal difference.
A seventh Bundesliga title in succession appears a pipe dream in Bayern's winter of discontent. Unless Bayern can coax Heynckes out of retirement for another emergency, Kovac will likely get a stay of execution until the summer, before Bayern's rebuilding process begins in earnest – a year too late.