A club legend says those in Munich are paying the price for having stuck by aging stars and resisting the urge to bring through young talent
Bayern Munich are paying the price for making "the biggest mistake" of not upgrading an aging squad quickly enough, says Lothar Matthaus.
The Bundesliga giants have enjoyed an era of unrivalled success, with six successive title triumphs enjoyed in Germany.
They have, however, endured a humbling wake-up call in 2018-19 , with struggles under Niko Kovac’s new coaching regime leaving the club fourth in the table.
Matthaus believes young talent has not been brought through quickly enough, with too much focus having been placed on the present and not enough on development for the future.
The Bayern legend told Goal during a visit to India in his role as a Bundesliga ambassador: "Bayern have dominated the German championship for the last six years.
"Bundesliga is always a very interesting project. We have a lot of good players and surely the best team in Germany is Bayern Munich over the last six years. They have won the title six times.
"They have the players who have been playing for the last six years like [Arjen] Robben, [Franck] Ribery, [Jerome] Boateng, [Thomas] Muller. Times change, football is going faster and faster and the young generation is coming more. The biggest mistake Bayern made before the season was that they didn't make the change.
"And now, step by step, they have to fight back. Bayern have very good young players and with Niko Kovac as the coach, he has to give the chance for the young players to play."
Kovac has experienced a testing opening to his reign , having been appointed over the summer, but the former Bayern player is considered to be the right man to steer the club through choppy waters.
Matthaus added: "Niko Kovac was a player with Bayern 15 years ago. He has the DNA of Bayern, he knows the Bundesliga.
"He has Croatian roots but he was born in Germany. He was playing in the Bundesliga, he had good results last year with Eintracht Frankfurt. He was the Croatian national coach, he has the experience to work with stars. But Bayern Munich is something special. And for this, he needs a little bit of support from the people who are working in the club.
"For me, the mistake Bayern made was that they did not change the players. Kovac has to manage players who have won everything in the previous years. I don’t see motivation from some players. When you have won the title six times, how can you motivate yourselves? It is not on purpose, it is automatic psychologically.
"This was the problem for him. Maybe [he got] some decisions wrong. He has to learn and I think he will learn.
"He is a good coach. He is working very hard from morning until evening to make players better. If Bayern gives him the support, the president, the director, the fans, I am sure Bayern will have the same results with Kovac that they were having in the previous years with other coaches."
Further reinforcements will help to push Bayern back to the top of the Bundesliga standings, with it possible that another raid on rivals Borussia Dortmund could be made at some stage.
Belgium international Axel Witsel would not be an addition to form part of a long-term plan, at 29 years of age, but he is considered to be of the right calibre.
Matthaus said of the apparent interest in the midfielder: "He is working very well for Borussia Dortmund over the last three months. But Bayern Munich wants to think long-term. If Witsel is playing the same next year as he is doing now, sure, he can be a good player for Bayern Munich. But Bayern have a different strategy.
"Bayern have Javi Martinez in the same position. Martinez has played better in previous years than he is now. [Leon] Goretzka, who played a great Confederations Cup, is a great No.6 or No.8 player.
"Witsel has experience. He is the right player for this team in Dortmund, it doesn't mean he is the right player for Bayern because Bayern and Dortmund play different styles of football.
"Is Witsel a player for Bayern Munich? Sure, he is a very good player and I am sure he can play for Bayern Munich, but now he is playing for Dortmund."