By Barry Whelan, dpa
Berlin (dpa) – Bayern Munich have form.
And we’re not talking about their results on the pitch.
Their patchy recent performances, culminating in a 5-1 thrashing at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, has cost coach Niko Kovac his job at the club despite his leading the record German champions to a league and cup double last season.
However, when it comes to replacing coaches, Bayern are nothing if not a model of consistency.
Kovac’s autumn departure has close parallels to the exit of Carlo Ancelotti two years ago.
The veteran Italian coach was dismissed in late September 2017 shortly after a 3-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
Like Kovac, he did not last long in Munich, having been appointed in July 2016. And like Kovac, winning a Bundesliga title was not enough to save him.
Even club statements on the parting of the ways of two coaches were eerily similar.
Sport director Hasan Salihamidzic said he was now “expecting a positive development from our players” in a sentence on the club website which repeats word for word club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge’s statement following Ancelotti’s departure.
Ancelotti had to deal with disgruntled leading players he had left on the bench, a problem also faced by Kovac, who if German media reports are to be believed, did not have the wholesale support of his squad.
The Bayern management have never been afraid to act in such cases. Otto Rehhagel, Ottmar Hitzfeld, Felix Magath, Juergen Klinsmann, Jupp Heynkes and Louis van Gaal are among those who have all “parted company” with the club, to use the euphemism for an early contract termination.
Pep Guardiola, now at Manchester City, has been one of the few exceptions to turn down a new contract and leave on his own volition.
Bayern’s management may also feel they have learned the lessons of 2009 when the team lost 5-1 in Wolfsburg, but when they retained former player Klinsmann for another five matches before finally ending his contract.
“Giving Kovac another chance would have been the decent thing,” the Bild newspaper commented. “But if you look at how many weak matches there have been in the Kovac term despite the double it would not have been consistent.”
The question now is who will fill the Bayern hot seat?
Assistant coach Hansi Flick is in charge for this week’s Champions League home game against Olympiakos and the key Bundesliga duel at home to Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.
President Uli Hoeness turned to his old friend and playing partner Heynckes to steer the club following the exit of Ancelotti, as he did in 2009 after Klinsmann left.
Heynckes had in 1991 been dismissed by Bayern after he had secured the league title in 1989 and 1990, a decision which Hoeness, then the club’s general manager, said was “my biggest mistake.”
Heynckes, now 74, made it clear he was now retiring full time when he made way at the end of the 2017-18 season.
It leaves up to a dozen candidates for the job, although the likes of Juergen Klopp (Liverpool), Thomas Tuchel (PSG) and Joachim Loew (Germany) can probably be ruled out.
Among possible candidates are Erik Ten Hag of Ajax, Ralf Rangnick, who has a sport directorship role at Red Bull, former Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri, former Porto, Inter Milan, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho, former Bayern players Xabi Alonso and Mark van Bommel, former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, Bayern junior coach and former player Miroslav Klose and Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Bayern will likely give themselves some time to find a successor. An international break in any case follows the Dortmund game, and reports suggest former player Flick could be at the helm until the winter break.