Kane’s first season at Bayern – a success or a failure?

Harry Kane’s move to Bayern Munich was dressed up like a movie.

On the day of his August arrival, Munich’s city centre unveiled a banner with the word ‘KANE’ next to an image of the England captain in black tie. It presented him as James Bond coming to save the day.

The script was written: Kane was joining Bayern Munich to win the trophies he didn’t win at Tottenham, while the German giants signed one of the best strikers in the world to win everything. But it was not followed.

Kane still held the lead role in Bayern’s season, scoring 44 goals in 45 matches. But despite the individual success of Bayern’s £100m club record signing, the England captain’s trophy count remains at zero, as Bayern failed to win a trophy for the first time since 2012.

Bayer Leverkusen came out of nowhere to produce an invincible season to win the Bundesliga. Bayern also suffered an embarrassing German Cup exit to third-tier Saarbrucken, while Real Madrid produced a stunning comeback to dump Thomas Tuchel’s side out of the Champions League semi-finals.

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Highlights of the Bundesliga match between VfB Stuttgart and Bayern Munich.

It has led many to claim Kane is cursed. But has this season been a success or a failure?

Right club, wrong time?

It is certainly a case of bad luck when it comes to Kane’s first season. Bayern’s final Bundesliga points total this season would have been enough to win the German top-flight in the previous four seasons.

Meanwhile, nobody saw Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen train coming. The team branded ‘Never-kusen’ – due to their status as almost-winners – turned into ‘Never-lose-en’ as Alonso’s side aim to go the entire season unbeaten in all competitions.

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Xabi Alonso was showered in beer by his Bayer Leverkusen players – who invaded his press conference after the club’s maiden Bundesliga title.

On top of that, Kane watched on powerless as an unused substitute to the Saarbrucken cup loss, while he was unfortunately forced off with back problems just as Bayern were closing in on victory against Real to reach the Champions League final. His premature exit coincided with Bayern’s collapse.

But Kane’s misfortune goes deeper than that. There is a suggestion that he joined the right club, at the wrong time.

The England captain joined a club seeped in a winning mentality, their club motto of ‘Mia San Mia’ epitomising their high standards, despite to win and big-game mentality. Before this season, the club won 11 league titles.

But Bayern is a club who have lost their leaders. Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso retired in 2017, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Mats Hummels departed three years later.

Despite having Thomas Muller and Manuel Neuer as the last remaining old guard, Bayern are not what they used to be. It is the same with the Bayern board, who have not only enforced two mid-season manager changes in the last two seasons, but also sacked Oliver Kahn and Hasan Salihamidzic from key hierarchical positions last year.

Dier has featured regularly since making his January move
Bayern have lacked leaders in recent years

“The board have made many bad decisions over the last years. They need more calm. It has been very wild over the last years. Managers were sacked, players left in a bad way,” says Sky Germany reporter Kerry Hau.

On the pitch, Bayern were lucky last season. Tuchel’s side did their best to throw away the Bundesliga title in 2023, only for Borussia Dortmund to chuck it back to them on the final day of campaign, a sign that Bayern’s usual levels of efficiency and excellence were slipping away.

This season, their unlucky injury crisis has played its part. Kane managed to avoid the treatment table until the final few weeks of the season, but those around him had a worse time.

“The amount of muscle injuries were crazy,” adds Hau. “I never saw so many injuries before. So many players played with painkillers for so many months – Leroy Sane and Jamal Musiala for example. Serge Gnabry didn’t even get to play 10 games this season, Kingsley Coman is also an injury-prone player.

How many league games have Bayern players missed with injuries?

  • Serge Gnabry: 20 matches
  • Kingsley Coman: 16 matches
  • Raphael Guerreiro: 12 matches
  • Noussair Mazraoui: 11 matches
  • Manuel Neuer: 10 matches
  • Jamal Musiala: 9 matches

“In Munich, when things are not going 100 per cent your way there is always a side rumour to it or an atmosphere to it that makes it not easy for a manager,” adds Jurgen Klinsmann.

“It is not an easy place to be when things are not going perfect your way. But that is Bayern Munich. That is what drives this club day in day and day out because they are constantly hungry for titles and when they do not win titles they get in a bad mood.”

Bayern’s injury crisis meant they were reliant on Kane for attacking creativity for the entire season. His back problems, a pre-Euro 2024 concern for England this summer, are no surprise. “If you play every game, you get problems. So Bayern could have done with resting him,” says Hau.

Is Kane the Bundesliga’s best?

But Kane’s goal numbers were phenomenal. No Bundesliga player over the last seven seasons has ever scored at a higher rate than his 36 goals in 32 league matches.

Not even Robert Lewandowski or Erling Haaland, who are part of the pantheon of world-class forwards Kane belongs to. And there is a case to be made that the Bundesliga has not seen a striker like Kane before.


“For me I would 100 per cent take Harry Kane over Erling Haaland,” says Sky Germany’s Jesco von Eichmann, despite his allegiances to Dortmund.

“Haaland is a great goalscorer but, as Roy Keane said, his build-up play is not the best.”

“He is different in terms of style in terms than Lewandowski and Haaland,” says Hau. “He’s more involved in the game.

“I was a bit surprised when I saw him playing sometimes as a No 8, playing deeper in the pitch. He wants to participate a lot in the creative play of the game with both feet.”

The Bundesliga view on Kane is overall a positive one, and not just for his goalscoring feats. “Bayern fans are very happy with Kane – they love him here,” says Hau.

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Bayern Munich’s Harry Kane discusses his new penalty taking technique after he scored at Arsenal in the Champions League.

“The way he speaks out after the matches, he’s a very humble and normal guy. That’s what Germans really like – he doesn’t play like a superstar, having all the grand stuff with big cars. He’s a very normal guy.”

“He settled into the lifestyle in Munich, into the environment, into the country, basically, in a very sympathetic and positive way with his family,” adds Klinsmann. “That is something that the German fans really, really appreciate.

“They saw him coming and it is Harry Kane, he is huge. One of the best three in the world in his position. And he is just a humble guy, just a down-to-earth guy, focusing on his work and trying to score as many goals as he can.”

But that is not what Kane will be remembered for if his ‘curse’ continues. Individually, Kane’s season has been a success – but can the 30-year-old drive Bayern to bigger things?

“He will turn it around, I am 100 per cent sure he will turn it around. He will get his trophies with Bayern Munich,” says Klinsmann. Hau agrees. “He has to continue scoring goals, providing assists,” he adds. “This summer will be a lot of changes, young players will get more chances.

“But we can’t expect more from him.”

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