When asked if Bayern Munich without Uli Hoeneb is even conceivable, probably many people would have answered a very long time with a decided no. Too important, yes, indispensable was the 67-year-old for the club, whose rise to the undisputed industry leader in this country is inextricably linked in terms of sporting as well as economic terms. Uli Hoeneb was not less than the mastermind of Bayern for 40 years. "He is the visionary, he has the nose, he gets the money in", as Ottmar Hitzfeld once put it, the coach of that legendary team around Oliver Kahn, Stefan Effenberg and Giovane Elber, who in 2001 after 25 years again the trophy for the Champions League to Munich.
Hoeneb was the overseer of the record champion, nobody embodied the club's motto "Mia san mia" as ideal as he. He was not only the tough-calculating manager who turned a debt-ridden and troubled club into the jack of the league and a thriving football corporation, not just the patriarch, who took on anyone and defended Bayern against all imaginary and actual opponents not only the loudspeaker, which polarized with pithy words and red head. But also the biggest fan of his club, who cheered with a Bayern scarf first on the bench and later in the stands, euphorically cheered at goals and after convincing victories beamed like a child under the Christmas tree.
While Uli Hoeness' time as manager, he became in 1979 at just 27 years, and since 2009 as president, FC Bayern has become a club of superlatives, with titles on the assembly line and record sales, which were last at a three quarters of billions of euros. No other club in Germany could even compete with the Munich team, either athletically or financially. It was always important to Hoeneb that the club stands on a solid foundation in monetary terms and preserves its independence. He never worked as patron or patron, such as Silvio Berlusconi at AC Milan, and the so-called strategic partnerships with large German companies led under his aegis to an immense flow of capital, but not to the fact that Bayern more than a quarter of its shares sold.
Hoeneb had lost the visionary
In recent years, however, Uli Hoeneb has "lost the visionary", as Gunter Klein has stated in an interview with the blog Miasanrot. He is Chefreporter Sport at the "Munchner Merkur" and together with Patrick Strasser presented a Hoeneb biography five years ago. Time has overtaken Hoeneb, Klein says, "in many ways he is too far away from modernity". In fact, it seems backward, when the longtime manager, for example, almost defiantly expressed, have never used the Internet. Even his rustic sayings and appearances are now like fallen out of time. An emotional call such as the one in the show "Doppelpass" last Sunday no longer causes a discussion, but only for amazement and Fremdscham.
This development is astonishing, because for a long time Uli Hoeneb was ahead of his time. The football was not enough for him as a field of activity, he expressed himself again and again publicly on socio-political and economic issues, provoked it gladly, rubbed and deliberately. At the same time he promoted the professionalization of football, but not without unfolding activities that clearly contradicted the image of the cold-hearted calculator, such as the charity match at FC St. Pauli or his commitment to players who did not fare healthily, mentally or financially such as Sebastian Deisler or Lars Lunde. This had consequences: Hoeneb was increasingly perceived not only as an arrogant patron who knows no pity for his archenemies like Willi Lemke or Christoph Daum, but also as a carer who has a heart for the weaker.
He was no longer a moralist
In 2000, he was named "Entrepreneur of the Year", later asked the "mirror" even: "He is a model for a whole country?" With his conviction for tax evasion in the millions to imprisonment this role model had done, but during Hoeness' time in prison was also something else recognizable: The club was no longer dependent on his patriarch, but had a little overgrown family business transformed into a modern, globally active football corporation. Although Uli Hoeneb had pushed this development decisively and promoted, but when he was in prison, it was also clear that the FC Bayern Munich without him is by no means without ideas and leadership.
The Bavarians had won the triple for the first time in 2013 and then with Pep Guardiola the probably most desirable coach in the world to get to Munich. In addition to the CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Chief Executive Officer Matthias Sammer, whom Hoeneb had installed following the lost "final dahoam" in the 2012 Champions League as the successor to the pale sports director Christian Nerlinger, also took over the bosses' external communication. Sporty, it ran around for the Munich, economically continue also, at the same time the club appeared modest, quieter, more sympathetic. Although power and responsibility had been distributed to more shoulders long before Hoeneb's imprisonment, Uli Hoeneb's dominance had clearly defined the club's action and public image. Now he disappeared from the scene for the first time – and suddenly you realized: It works without him, and even pretty well.
Uli Hoeneb himself, however, "believed the club would break without him," as biographer Gunter Klein says. In November 2016, Hoeneb was re-elected president, but his image was badly damaged. One who was behind bars for tax evasion is no longer a moralist. But Hoeness did not quite understand. His performances became louder, more angry, more defiant, and all the more, the more he shook his head, about his sometimes almost insulting remarks about Mesut Ozil and the ex-Bayern player Juan Bernat or his in form and content questionable statements to national coach Joachim Loew or the contenders of Manuel Neuer in the goal of the national team, Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
His model created identity
"He seems to have become a tougher person in prison," guesses Gunter Klein about Hoeneb. "Maybe bitterness has remained about how his life has turned." Especially since parts of the public and the media after Hoeneb 'return to the presidency at Bayern did not even react indignantly to some of his comments, but in a way that would have been unthinkable: Hoeness was not taken in places seriously, even compassionate ridiculed. Even among the Bayern fans crumbled his memorial: At the Annual General Meeting of 2018, there was the first time vehement criticism of him, especially by a young man who concluded his speech with the words: "Bayern is not a one-man show." There was a lot of applause for that, but for Hoeneb there were whistles. A novelty, yes, a taboo break. When Uli Hoeness in May 2014, after his conviction, at a general meeting an emotional farewell speech with the words "That's it yet" decided, he was still celebrated for minutes.
With a reaction like a year ago, Uli Hoeneb does not have to expect tonight, when after four decades on the front line he now enters the second link. The members will probably prepare a conciliatory departure with much applause. It may be interesting to see if and how the club continues the model for which Hoeneb stood and which was tailored to him: the occupation of most important functions with former Bayern players. It has always been identity-creating and informal, it has made FC Bayern become an association for which many players are more than exchangeable personnel – and, conversely, its players are more than just one employer among many. The next, who joins here, will be Oliver Kahn, who will take over the post of CEO Rummenigge at the end of 2021.
No one in German football has probably never polarized more than Uli Hoeneb, so many critics are now losing an enemy after his retreat – and Bayern the architect of his success, his patriarch and the one who has been his face for decades. Although Hoeneb will continue to play a part in the background and let his contacts play, he will certainly continue to speak out. But the first violin will finally play others. For the German record champions, considering Hoeneb's loss of reputation in recent years, this is certainly not just bad news.