MUNICH (GERMANY) (AFP)¬†–¬†
Bayern Munich sports director Hasan Salihamidzic described speculation over coach Niko Kovac’s future as “stupid” on Saturday.
“Do not ask such stupid questions,” fumed Salihamidzic before storming off when asked if Kovac would be safe as head coach if Bayern lose at league leaders Dortmund next Saturday.
After dominating the Bundesliga for each of the last six years, there is huge frustration in the Bayern camp at no longer being top of the table.
They conceded an 89th-minute equaliser against Freiburg at the Allianz Arena on Saturday which left them four points behind Dortmund, who won 1-0 at Wolfsburg.
If the gap increases to seven points after next Saturday’s crunch Bundesliga showdown at Signal Iduna Park, patience with Kovac could start to wear thin.
“I ask myself the same, that’s not easy to answer,” replied Salihamidzic, shortly before his angry exit, after being asked when Kovac will deliver on the promises of improvement.
Having laboured to a 2-1 win at fourth-tier part-timers Roedinghausen in the German Cup on Tuesday, Bayern again struggled against Freiburg as Serge Gnabry’s late goal was cancelled out by Lucas Hoeler’s equaliser.
“Our game is not great at the moment, but it won’t help if we fall apart now,” said Germany star Thomas Mueller, who came off the bench for the final 19 minutes.
“We have to plant our flag and pull ourselves together, it’s now up to us to stand together.”
– Trouble and strife –
Mueller had to defend his wife Lisa, who took to Instagram to criticise Kovac for leaving her husband on the bench until late, “it took him (Kovac) 70 minutes to have a flash of inspiration…”
“That came from her emotions, I don’t find it great, but she loves me — what should I do?” said Mueller on the post, which was quickly deleted, while Kovac declined to comment in the post-match press conference.
Nevertheless, the cause of the trouble and strife is clear — Bayern are just not finishing their chances.
Striker Robert Lewandowski had another game to forget, while centre-backs Jerome Boateng and Niklas Suele were exposed for pace in the build-up to the equaliser.
“Things would have been much easier if ‘Lewy’ (Robert Lewandowski) had put his chance away,” said Kovac.
“The second half was hectic, we’re disappointed.”
Captain Manuel Neuer admitted this was another performance when Bayern failed to sparkle.
“We have seen that we haven’t really shone for weeks now,” said Germany’s goalkeeper.
“Nevertheless, we had sequences in the game in which we did really well.
“The question is, of course, why we don’t continue like that.
“Mistakes can happen, that’s normal in football, but it’s questionable why such a game tilts like that.”
Bayern could finish the weekend third in the table if Borussia Moenchengladbach beat strugglers Fortuna Duesseldorf at home on Sunday.
Kovac will need no reminding that Carlo Ancelotti was sacked as Bayern coach in October 2017 after a heavy Champions League defeat at Paris Saint-Germain.
A similar scoreline at Dortmund, who have scored 30 goals in 10 league games, could well signal the beginning of the end of his tenure having only taken over in July.
¬© 2018 AFP