Bundesliga: Niko Kovac's Bayern Munich future in doubt despite potential League and German Cup double

As a rocky first season enters its final act, beleaguered Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac is fighting for his job.

Agence France-Presse May 15, 2019 20:33:26 IST
Bundesliga: Niko Kovac's Bayern Munich future in doubt despite potential League and German Cup double
  • As a rocky first season enters its final act, beleaguered Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac is fighting for his job.

  • Yet even a domestic double may not be enough to save Kovac, who appears to be the subject of a tug of war in the Bayern boardroom.

  • Kovac has faced the sack once before this season after a draw at home to Fortuna Duesseldorf saw Bayern slip nine points behind Borussia Dortmund.

Berlin: When Niko Kovac sends his team onto the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, there will be more than just the Bundesliga title at stake. As a rocky first season enters its final act, the beleaguered Bayern Munich coach is fighting for his job.

Kovac, who took over from Jupp Heynckes after leading Frankfurt to cup glory last season, has overseen a generational transition while keeping Bayern in the hunt for both domestic titles.

Bundesliga Niko Kovacs Bayern Munich future in doubt despite potential League and German Cup double

File image of Niko Kovac. Reuters

Yet he continues to face criticism from inside and outside the club, amid questions over his safety-first style and rumours that Bayern are eyeing Ajax coach Erik ten Hag and former Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui.

"Everything less than success is a failure, I always knew that," said Kovac last week as he looked back on his first season in Munich.

Bayern can secure a seventh straight league title if they avoid defeat against Frankfurt, and could make it two trophies in a week in the German Cup final against RB Leipzig a week later.

Yet even a domestic double may not be enough to save Kovac, who appears to be the subject of a tug of war in the Bayern boardroom.

President Uli Hoeness has repeatedly backed his coach, stating early in the season that he would "defend him to the hilt", but CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has always been cooler on Kovac.

"I am not a fan of job guarantees and I don't want to just praise the coach and the players," said Rummenigge after Saturday's 0-0 draw at RB Leipzig.

Later that evening, speculation over Kovac's future hit fever pitch when sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic refused to confirm whether the Croatian would still be in charge next season.

"Niko Kovac has my full support, but I can only speak for myself," he told public broadcaster ZDF.

Asked directly whether Kovac would hold on to his job, he replied: "we will see".

'Lacked courage'

Kovac has faced the sack once before this season after a draw at home to Fortuna Duesseldorf saw Bayern slip nine points behind Borussia Dortmund in November.

At that time, there were reports of dressing room disharmony over his training methods and rotation policy.

Kovac responded by rotating less and led Bayern back into the title race with 13 wins in 14 games after the Duesseldorf debacle.

He also succeeded in integrating young players such as Serge Gnabry and Leon Goretzka into the first team.

Yet senior players have continued to criticise his style, which prioritises defensive stability.

"We played too defensively in both games and I don't know why," striker Robert Lewandowski told Norwegian television after Bayern were knocked out of the Champions League second round by Liverpool.

For all the promise of domestic success, the second round defeat to Liverpool continues to hang over Kovac.

On ZDF last Saturday, Salihamidzic singled the tie out as a low point of the season, saying that Bayern had "lacked courage" in the second leg.

Rummenigge, too, said in April that the Liverpool defeat had "rankled hugely".

"It did damage to us financially but also to our image, and to the image of the Bundesliga," he told Bild newspaper.

The defeat has certainly piled the pressure on Kovac to deliver the league and cup double, and the next two weeks may decide the fate of the Bayern coach.

"If we win the title, then I would rate this season a B+," said Salihamidzic on Saturday. "Otherwise, it was a turd of a season."

Updated Date:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

US women's football asked to wait until 2021 for jury trial on their charges of discriminatory working conditions
Sports

US women's football asked to wait until 2021 for jury trial on their charges of discriminatory working conditions

If the members of the US Women's football team and want a jury trial, US District Judge R. Gary Klausner would postpone the start until 26 January.

Spanish second division club Fuenlabrada confirm 12 new COVID-19 cases, takes tally to 28
Sports

Spanish second division club Fuenlabrada confirm 12 new COVID-19 cases, takes tally to 28

Fuenlabrada said the one player who was hospitalised on Friday was in a stable condition with “non-serious symptoms”.

Bundesliga, LaLiga witness more away wins in empty stadiums, fewer draws in Premier League, Serie A goes the other direction
Sports

Bundesliga, LaLiga witness more away wins in empty stadiums, fewer draws in Premier League, Serie A goes the other direction

One of the compromises to bring football back from pandemic enforced break was empty stadiums. Premier League, Bundesliga, LaLiga and Serie A finished without fans in attendance. But did it alter the outcomes? We ran the numbers.