Sunday, August 18, 2019 | ePaper
Coach Kovac fighting for Bayern job despite possible double
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.
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 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.