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November 11, 2019

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Some Bayern stars ‘wanted Kovac gone’

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has revealed club bosses decided to part company with head coach Niko Kovac because some of the Bundesliga club’s stars wanted him out.

Kovac, 48, was dismissed by Bayern last Sunday in the wake of a 1-5 thrashing at Eintracht Frankfurt.

Interim coach Hansi Flick oversaw a 2-0 home win over Olympiakos in midweek, with Bayern qualifying for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League with two games left, and Saturday’s 4-0 league thrashing of Dortmund at Allianz Arena.

Kovac won the Bundesliga and cup double last season, but was sacked after 16 months and Hoeness confirmed to broadcaster ZDF late on Saturday the Croatian coach had lost the backing of his dressing room.

“There were certainly elements within the team that wanted the coach gone,” revealed Hoeness without naming who, although forward Thomas Mueller had said he was unhappy to be repeatedly benched by Kovac.

“That’s why the club leaders reacted accordingly.”

Hoeness said Kovac himself admitted it was “the right decision” to part company.

In an interview with Sky earlier, Hoeness said he remains in contact with Kovac, “as far as I am concerned, the coaches almost always leave as friends. He’s not happy, of course, but I think he’s also relieved”.

Hoeness, who will step down after a decade as Bayern president on Friday at the club’s annual general meeting, said “absolutely no decision has been made” as to who will replace Kovac.

Both Hoeness and club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge hinted after Saturday’s game Flick would stay on past the November 23 deadline — Bayern’s next league game — which Hoeness had set as a date to announce a new head coach.

Both Ajax coach Erik ten Hag, who coached Bayern’s reserves from 2013-15, and Paris Saint Germain’s German coach Thomas Tuchel have said they will not leave their respective clubs this season.

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has also criticized Bayern’s lack of discretion for putting out a statement saying the club turned him down.

The 70-year-old Frenchman insists he spoke to Rummenigge by phone and only expressed interest in the job in a brief conversation when the pair agreed to speak again next week.

“I think we both misunderstood and I am sorry for that,” Rummenigge told reporters, adding he will phone Wenger soon to “clear this thing up.”

With two wins under Flick, Bayern has time during the upcoming international window, “which we need to get a clear idea what we want”, said Hoeness, adding the goal must be a “long-term solution.”

Meanwhile, Mainz fired Sandro Schwarz as head coach yesterday after more than two years in charge, making him the third boss to be dismissed by a Bundesliga club in the last week.

Schwarz, 41, was shown the door after Saturday’s 2-3 home defeat to newly-promoted Union Berlin which followed last week’s 0-8 drubbing at high-flying RB Leipzig.

Schwarz’s dismissal comes after Achim Beierlorzer was sacked by Cologne on Saturday, and Kovac was let go by Bayern.

Defeat to Union saw Mainz drop into the bottom three after losing eight of its first 11 league games this season — the worst start to a season in the club’s history.


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