Mané incident adds new twist to Bayern’s season of drama

DUESSELDORF, Germany (AP) – Suspending Sadio Mané for “misconduct” adds to the upheaval at Bayern Munich ahead of crucial games for the German champion as it tries to salvage a season which has quickly become a disappointment.

The Senegal forward will play no part in Saturday’s Bundesliga game against Hoffenheim and will be fined, the club announced Thursday. The move follows reports in German media that Mané struck teammate Leroy Sané following Tuesday’s 3-0 loss at Manchester City, although the club did not give any detailed reasons for his punishment.

It’s the latest twist in months of drama as German fans and media revive the “FC Hollywood” nickname that Bayern had back in the 1990s, when it was known as much for off-field antics as its soccer achievements. The last few months would give scriptwriters plenty to work with.

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer broke his leg skiing, then criticized the club for firing its longtime goalkeeping coach. Forward Serge Gnabry visited Paris Fashion Week and earned a public rebuke from the club. Julian Nagelsmann spent the final weeks of his coaching tenure hunting a “mole” he believed was leaking tactical secrets, then was abruptly fired and replaced by Thomas Tuchel. In Tuchel’s first four games, Bayern has gone from chasing three titles to focusing on the Bundesliga after a German Cup exit and a heavy loss to City which leaves its Champions League campaign all but over.

Mané left Liverpool as a “modern-day icon” in manager Jürgen Klopp’s words and was meant to shape Bayern’s new era when he signed in June as Robert Lewandowski left for Barcelona. After an initially solid start in Germany, the Senegal forward injured his leg in November and missed the World Cup. Since returning to action in February, Mané has not scored and has mostly been used for brief cameos off the bench.

Mané’s suspension is unlikely to have much effect on how Bayern plays against Hoffenheim on Saturday, given that he was unlikely to start, but the full impact of the incident on team morale remains unclear. And Tuchel, like Nagelsmann before him, is still struggling to get the best out of a team which hasn’t fully moved on from Lewandowski.

Hoffenheim is 14th in the table but on a run of three consecutive wins and has everything to play for as it’s still on the fringes of the relegation battle. Bayern has a lead of two points over Borussia Dortmund, which plays relegation candidate Stuttgart on Saturday.

At the other end of the table, it’s increasingly likely that at least one traditional giant of German soccer will be relegated this season. Hertha Berlin and Schalke are in the bottom two places and play Friday.


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