Niko Kovac’s dismissal as coach of Bayern Munich this Sunday evening might have come as a surprise at this point. The divorce, though, was overdue.
The 48-year-old is said to have offered his resignation after a second crisis meeting with chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, president Uli Hoeness and sports director Hasan Salihamidzic after he had supervised the morning training session after the disastrous 5-1 defeat in Frankfurt.
Kovac again didn’t receive the support he demanded to lead his team out of the crisis.
Germany’s 2014 World Cup assistant coach Hansi Flick is most likely only a temporary solution as Kovac’s successor, while speculations include former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, Ajax coach Erik Ten Hag and Thomas Tuchel of Paris St Germain.
Former Leipzig coach Ralf Rangnick, former Juve coach Massimo Allegri and Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho might have outside chances.
Appointing Flick is providing time to investigate future options.
The lack of support, though, is only one of several reasons for the separation from Kovac. It is by far not only the former midfielder who is to blame for the 2013 treble winners’ turmoil.
The former Croatian national coach from his start in summer 2018 had to live with his boss’s disunity about his position and expectations about the team’s development.
In his first year, Kovac had to deal with a squad collected by his predecessors and the club leaders. On top, he had to manage a problematic generation change having to moderate the career end of legends such as Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben.
In his second season, he more and more lost trust as he couldn’t get his team behind him and provide a convincing strategy satisfying the club’s demands to perform a modern and attacking football. Kovac seemed trapped between his ideas and interference from Rummenigge and Hoeness.
Rummenigge kept Kovac constantly under fire step by step, undermining his authority.
The 2019 double-winning coach had to learn that a Bayern coach highly depends on the mood of the club leaders.
Concerns grew among the Bavarians that the club might lose contact with Europe’s leading sides, such as the 2019 Champions League winner Liverpool FC. The wounds of the last-16-round defeat against the LFC have never healed.
Team-captain Manuel Neuer’s fatal statement delivered the last prove coach and team are done with each other. The German national keeper called the defeat in Frankfurt “expected” and “no surprise.”
Kovac was mainly Hoeness’s choice but never addressed the desire of the ruling German Champion to work with a big name of football management such as Pep Guardiola, Jupp Heynckes, or Carlo Ancelotti.
Kovac failed to combine the skills of club legend Thomas Mueller and new arrival Coutinho. Instead, the team’s defensive issues increased. He was accused not to stand for tactical innovation but a far too reluctant strategy.
Bayern’s leaders might turn their heads to a new coach of the format of tactical minds like Tuchel or Ten Hag.
Fact is the new head coach will have to be aware he won’t be coaching his team without 63-year-old Rummenigge and 67-year-old Hoeness breathing down his neck. The influence of the two alpha leaders assumedly won’t end when Oliver Kahn is going to take over the chairman’s job in 2022. Enditem