Bayern Munich manager Niko Kovač has reportedly landed himself in a much more perilous position in Bavaria than the club are letting on and is even in danger of losing the dressing room.
The Croatian's appointment at the Allianz Arena during the summer was unusual. Bayern Munich hadn't appointed someone with a track record of success, like Carlo Ancelotti or Pep Guardiola in previous years, nor any number of Germany's managerial wonderkids - notably Julian Nagelsmann, who will now join RB Leipzig in 2019.
Two things that Kovač's appointment did bring were excitement and uncertainty in equal measure. He had a reputation for succeeding with Germany's underdogs, and Bayern Munich's impressive start to the season suggested that the 46-year-old wouldn't struggle to adapt to life with the reigning champions.
After failing to win each of their last four games, however, Kovač has come under intense scrutiny. While Bayern Munich are publicly backing the Croatian, ESPN claims that senior players already have doubts over their manager's credentials moving forward.
Even some of Bayern Munich's younger players have held internal talks to vent their frustrations at Kovač, who has kept the faith with the likes of Arjen Robben (34) and Franck Ribéry (35) in big games this season.
I don’t think Bayern’s problems are really all on Niko Kovac either. (The best coach Bayern could have right now? No but...) at some point, need to look a bit further up the food chain...— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) October 6, 2018
"Kovač has been good on fitness levels and defensive organisation but the players expected solutions up front," a source told ESPN. "And they got nothing."
Although Bayern Munich will continue to support their manager, especially as Kovač remains a largely popular figure in Bavaria, these reports suggest that their results and one-dimensional attacking performances have to improve straight away.
The Reds can start to get their season back on track when they travel to VfL Wolfsburg after the international break, with a Champions League trip to Athens coming just three days later, but all eyes will be on Der Klassiker on November 10 when Bayern Munich can really make a statement of intent against Borussia Dortmund.