Harry Kane prepares to experience Bayern's Champions League obsession
Harry Kane has already sampled lederhosen, Oktoberfest beer and weisswurst… but now their £100m striker will experience Bayern Munich’s singular obsession with winning the Champions League as they open against ailing Man United
- Bayern Munich’s squad will pay their traditional visit to Oktoberfest next week
- It comes after Kane faces familiar rivals in the club’s Champions League opener
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast It’s All Kicking Off!
Oktoberfest was launched in Munich on Saturday, the city’s lord mayor ceremonially tapping open the first barrel with Harry Kane’s integration into Bavarian life set to continue when he dons lederhosen again for the club’s annual trip to the world famous beer festival next weekend.
Yet there is another Bavarian tradition he also needs to immerse himself within and which will begin at Old Trafford against Manchester United on Wednesday, which is the absolute need of his new club to win the Champions League.
The easier part of the cultural assimilation equation takes place next Sunday when Kane will be at the Käfer’s Wiesnchänke beer tent, the smartest venue in town, with wife Kate, as the whole Bayern team and their partners don lederhosen and the female equivalent, the dirnl apron dress, for what is part sponsors’ marketing exercise, part genuine team bonding event.
Once the press photos are done, players, coaching staff and partners enjoy the smart venue in private with food and beer served for the afternoon.
It’s effectively a rite of passage for new players, though you can imagine how horribly wrong such an event might have gone for English teams of yesteryear.
Bayern Munich’s superstar striker Harry Kane looked the part in lederhosen as he embraces the traditions of his new club
Kane, Alphonso Davies (left) and Thomas Muller (right) raise a glass in the annual promotional photoshoot for brewer Paulaner
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Bayern though seem to manage without anyone ending up on the front pages the following day.
There will be much for the team to discuss, not least the contentious last-minute penalty awarded to table-topping Bayer Leverkusen in the dramatic 2-2 draw on Friday night at the Allianz Arena, a game in which Kane performed his expected role by scoring in the seventh minute, but which leaves the two teams tied at the top of the Bundesliga on ten points.
Take homes from a superb game were that Bayern won’t necessarily waltz their way to the title if Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen, the most-interesting team in Europe right now, continue to play like this; that Thomas Tuchel retains his capacity to infuriate, captain Joshua Kimmich distinctly unimpressed with being taken off on 61 minutes and exchanging words with his coach; and that Bayern’s lime green Oktoberfest special edition kit is definitely an acquired taste.
Kane though is ticking all the right boxes in Munich for now. ‘Super professional, very humble, very engaging,’ is how club insiders describe him.
He recently had to skip a team photo shoot in traditional lederhosen with beer sponsors because he had to rush to London for the birth of his fourth child, Henry.
The sponsors were entirely understanding but of course disappointed the star of the show wasn’t in their publicity shots, so Thomas Müller, Alphonso Davies and Kane came in on another day to do a separate photo shoot with Kane ‘enjoying’ weisswurst – white sausage – and beer.
Scoring has not been an issue for Kane so far at Bayern and he netted their opening goal in Friday night’s 2-2 draw with Bayer Leverkusen
The striker celebrates with his team-mates and has settled in quickly at his new club
‘It tastes better than it looks,’ was his verdict on the sausage, which whilst a bit Alan Partridge was authentic. The sponsors, of course, were delighted he had made the effort.
‘It was really important for the sponsors but it was also important for him buying into Munch, Bavaria and the culture of the club with this first picture in lederhosen,’ said the club insider.
‘And he knew it was important for him. He completely gets it. It shows he is integrating, adjusting.’
Müller, who has volunteered to be Kane’s golf partner and will doubtless be showing him the exclusive Riedhof course in nearby Egling shortly, has become a natural ally in the dressing room.
‘He helps integrate all the new players but, of course, like Harry he’s a top star in his country so they have that in common and he speaks great English,’ said the club insider.
That other Bavarian custom Kane will also have to get used to is the Champions League obsession, its history dating back to the three successive wins from 1974-76 with Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Müller which established them as a major global team and then subsequent victories in 2001, 2013 and 2020.
The pre-Oktoberfest beer photoshoot is an annual fixture at Bayern and though Kane missed the team one because of the birth of his son, he posed for the cameras a few days later
Another tradition Kane must get used to is Bayern’s obsession with winning in Europe
Almost the first question Kane was asked when presented to Munich press was about the Champions League final being at Wembley this year and whether he expected to be there, winning with Bayern.
This, as Kane had rapidly discovered, is difference between playing for the fifth or sixth best side in England and a club that has won the Europe’s biggest trophy six times.
‘It’s not just wanting to win, you have to win’ said Kane recently. ‘Of course we wanted to win things at Spurs but if you went a couple of games without winning then it wasn’t a disaster.
‘To go into the Champions League as one of the favourites is a lot different to going in there just hoping to get through the group.’
The question on Wednesday will be whether Bayern really justify that tag of ‘one of the favourites’.
They may get past a dysfunctional Manchester United and it will be intriguing to see Kane playing for the club that did manage to get all its ducks in a row over the summer to sign the centre forward they really needed against the club that didn’t.
But the crunch time will come in March or April, in the latter stages.
Bayern have won the European Cup six times, the latest coming amid the Covid pandemic in 2020, when they defeated Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in Lisbon
Last season’s miserable exit to Manchester City in the quarter-finals was a disaster for Bayern
Bayern were stung by the way Manchester City casually swatted them aside last season in the quarter finals and in response tore up the entire structure of the club, sacking CEO and club legend Oliver Kahn and removing sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.
They then bent over backwards to deliver Kane for Tuchel as requested, the departure of Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona in the summer of 2022 and the failure to replace him the obvious hole in their on-field strategy.
They’re still hurt Lewandowski left them, so Kane coming has been something of an antidote.
‘Kane’s more of a team-player world-star,’ wrote Christof Kneer in Suddeustche Zeitung. ‘A kind of anti-Lewandowski who doesn’t rate a game and his team-mates by whether they provided enough moments to make it all about him.’
Bavaria in short is pretty much in love with ‘Sir Harry’ as he is christened in some papers. And yet not everything is quite so fairytale like in Bayern’s Camelot.
The holding midfielder promised to Thomas Tuchel, João Palhinha, fell through on a calamitous transfer deadline day, an embarrassment for a club famed for doing business early and who have long looked on askance at English clubs scrambling to get deals done at the last minute.
With all their focus on signing Kane, Bayern missed out on Fulham’s Joao Palhinha (right)
Manager Thomas Tuchel got his main target but not all the players he felt he needed
It’s almost as if so much energy went into getting Kane, they forgot about the rest.
Chelsea executives will tell you just how well Tuchel takes it when he doesn’t get his way.
The Kimmich spat on Friday night could be dismissed as the tension of the moment. Or it maybe a sign of something deeper simmering between senior players and exacting coach. Kane alone won’t solve all the team’s problems.
‘On the field he makes an unstable team seem more mature and off the field he puts everyone in a good mood, which can be important with such a strict trainer,’ wrote Kneer.
‘You get the impression that coach and player haven’t really bonded and if anything are already growing apart,’ he added. ‘Kane has pushed that paradox into the background.’
For now maybe. Wednesday night will be another test. Win and Project Sir Harry remains on track.
But if they don’t assert themselves in Europe this year, the mood music Kane provides won’t be enough to drown out the din of repercussions at Bayern Munich. And that maybe is the most febrile Bavarian custom of all.
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