The decision to part company with Jürgen Klinsmann had been “a hard one” taken only “after deliberating for several hours,” Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told a news conference at the club’s Säbener Strasse facility on Monday afternoon. The chairman, fellow board directors Uli Hoeneß and Karl Hopfner, and team manager Christian Nerlinger, met on Sunday to discuss the situation at the club after Bayern’s 1-0 home defeat to Schalke. A videotext link kept the participants informed about Wolfsburg’s 2-0 defeat in Cottbus, a surprise result which means FCB still retain realistic hopes of defending their Bundesliga crown, but even that failed to affect the outcome of the meeting.
“At this stage of the season, a decision like this can’t be dependent on an outstanding Cottbus side sensationally beating Wolfsburg,” Hoeneß commented. “We have to ask ourselves this: What are we seeing on our home ground? Since Christmas, and with very few exceptions, it’s not been what we were hoping for.”
Danger of missed targets
Exits from the DFB Cup and the Champions League, and a number of missed opportunities in the title race, had given the board “plenty to ponder,” the FCB general manager related. “We’ve lost all the important games - in Hamburg, Berlin, Wolfsburg, at home to Schalke and against Leverkusen in the cup. We’ve reacted to this negative trend, and acted because we’re afraid of failing to hit our targets.”
Ten months after arriving in Munich, Klinsmann and his assistants Martin Vasquez, Nick Theslof and Oliver Schmidtlein have now left the club. The board personally informed the 44-year-old head coach of the decision on Monday morning. “It was important to us to explain this to Jürgen first and in private,” Hoeneß said. “It was a hard moment for Jürgen in my office this morning, that was clear to see,” Rummenigge revealed.
Lack of sporting success
The decision had been tough for the board too, the chairman continued. “The board and the supervisory board were genuinely enthusiastic and convinced by Jürgen’s initial concept. However, there has to be sporting success, and that applies to Jürgen too.” The success factor had been conspicuous by its absence, Hoeneß noted. “Last season, we led the league from start to finish, but we still haven’t been top this term. For us, and especially for our fans, that’s not good enough.”
Rummenigge highlighted a “psychological barrier” in the team, “and it must be cleared out of the way”. Bayern believe they have found the right man in Jupp Heynckes, appointed caretaker coach until the end of the season. “We knew we needed a convincing solution,” said Hoeneß, “a man with coaching experience, a man with a track record and a steady hand who we can trust to point us in the right direction away from this turbulent situation.”
“We worked our way through a lot of names,” Rummenigge revealed, before the meeting settled on Heynckes, coincidentally spending the weekend in Munich with Sören Lerby and another acquaintance on a visit to his long-standing friend Uli Hoeneß. Heynckes, Bayern head coach from 1987 to 1991, was at the Allianz Arena for Saturday’s defeat to Schalke.
However, Hoeneß’s call did not reach the 63-year-old until he had arrived back home in Monchengladbach on Sunday evening. “Jupp made up his mind on the spot,” reported Rummenigge, “he talked it over with his wife for five minutes and rang us back. He said there was no need to talk about money, and that he was ready to help Bayern straight away.”
Total effort from the players
Heynckes cited gratitude and his connection to the FCB manager as the reasons for accepting the temporary post: “I’m doing it for Bayern, who provided the springboard into international football for me, and because of my friendship with Uli Hoeneß.” The 63-year-old will supervise his first training session at the Säbener Strasse on Tuesday afternoon. “Jupp has always put his heart and soul into the game,” commented Hoeneß, “we need a new spirit of optimism, so this is exactly the right kind of man.”
The onus was on the team more than ever now, Rummenigge emphasised. “The players must give it everything. We had the impression one or two players have used Jürgen as a convenient excuse. We’ll watch the next five matches very closely and see who’s prepared to sacrifice himself for Bayern Munich football club.”
Second spot or better
The minimum acceptable achievement now was a direct qualifying place for the Champions League, Hoeneß stated, although the general manager hopes for an even better outcome: “We think there’s a chance of new impetus and perhaps achieving the unachievable. Perhaps we can still win the title.”