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Ralph Hasenhüttl discusses contact with Bayern Munich before Kovac was hired

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Hasenhüttl was in the running to replace Jupp Heynckes at the end of last season, but felt he lacked the titles to coach Bayern Munich.

FC Bayern Muenchen v RB Leipzig - Bundesliga
MUNICH, GERMANY - OCTOBER 28: Head coach Ralph Hasenhuettl of Leipzig looks on prior to the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and RB Leipzig at Allianz Arena on October 28, 2017 in Munich, Germany.
FC Bayern Muenchen v RB Leipzig - Bundesliga MUNICH, GERMANY - OCTOBER 28: Head coach Ralph Hasenhuettl of Leipzig looks on prior to the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and RB Leipzig at Allianz Arena on October 28, 2017 in Munich, Germany.
(Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Ralph Hasenhüttl took charge of his first match as manager of Southampton in the Premier League this weekend as the Saints lost 1-0 to Cardiff City in South Wales. The former RB Leipzig manager had been linked with the manager’s job at Bayern Munich last year to succeed Jupp Heynckes, but the 51-year-old Austrian deemed himself unready for the aforementioned position.

Per Bild (via TZ), Hasenhüttl disclosed that he was contacted by Bayern’s front office before they hired Niko Kovac. In a telephone conversation with the club, he told them he wasn’t ready to become manager of Bayern. He felt he lacked the credentials in terms of titles. In his comments to Bild, Hasenhüttl hinted that the difficulties Kovac has faced this season prove his point:

I said at the time with full conviction that I was not yet that far along. Some may have ridiculed this assessment, but perhaps they think differently about it now after the developments of the last few months. Having titles and championships on your CV currently helps immensely to survive at Bayern Munich as coach.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but comparing Hasenhüttl’s résumé to Niko Kovac’s opens plenty of room for debate. Bayern’s front office ultimately felt that Kovac was the best fit for what they wanted moving forward, but Hasenhüttl arguably had an equally impressive list of accomplishments. He won promotion from the 2. Liga with FC Ingolstadt 04 in 2015 for the first time in the club’s history and finished as Bundesliga runners-up with RB Leipzig in the 2016/2017 season, earning Die Roten Bullen their first ever European campaign by way of Champions League qualification for the 2017/2018 season.

As for Kovac, he had international coaching experience with Croatia and had secured Bundesliga survival for Eintracht Frankfurt in 2016 before leading them to a mid-table finish in 2017. Additionally, he led Frankfurt to two consecutive appearances in the DFB-Pokal final in 2017 and 2018, the latter of which he won against Bayern Munich. Technically, he also opened up his competitive campaign as Bayern manager with a trophy in the form of the DFL Supercup by beating his former employer in an emphatic 5-0 victory for Bayern.

Bayern Muenchen v Eintracht Frankfurt - DFB Cup Final
BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 19: Head coach of Eintracht Frankfurt Niko Kovac lifts the DFB Cup trophy after winning the DFB Cup final against Bayern Muenchen at Olympiastadion on May 19, 2018 in Berlin, Germany.
Kovac with the DFB Pokal trophy.
(Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Going from Leipzig to Southampton may seem like a step backwards on the surface, but Hasenhüttl has insisted that getting the Saints to climb the Premier League table in England is a challenge that he’s more than ready for (via Sport.de):

I understand when some people see my new job as presumably a step backwards at first glance. If you look more closely, you’ll see very quickly, however, the chances that open up even in a relegation battle. I think that I can accomplish more here from the very start than perhaps with a Champions League hopeful. I’m interested in developing players — and I have this possibility in Southampton in a fantastic environment.