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Niko Kovac defends rival manager ahead of Bundesliga clash

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Leverkusen’s Heiko Herrlich has come under intense scrutiny after losing both his opening matches, but the criticism is absurdly premature for Kovac.

Eintracht Frankfurt Cup Gala - DFB Cup Final 2018 Photo by Andreas Wolf - Pool/Getty Images

Things have not gone according to plan for Heiko Herrlich and Bayer Leverkusen so far this campaign, amassing zero points in their first two matches. Losses to Borussia Monchengladbach and a resurgent VFL Wolfsburg have already put a massive dent in Die Werkself’s lofty ambitions, with many pundits tipping Leverkusen to push into the Champions League places with ease.

This disappointing start, followed by the daunting task of a match with Bayern Munich has Herrlich on the hot seat in the infant stages of the season. After falling short of Champions League qualification last year, the German manager must be hoping for a quality display in order to keep the trust of his players and club executives.

Despite difficult times for the Leverkusen boss, Bayern manager Niko Kovac believes the start is not representative of poor management.

The fact that the criticism is coming out and peaking at the moment — that surprises me. I don’t think it’s appropriate to put a coaching colleague in the corner after two matchdays and attack him this way. To question a coach who was successful after two matchdays — that’s simply impossible. We might also go after the coach after one matchday... We should try to approach the subject objectively and reasonably.

The Croatian boss knows that the league table can be misleading this early in the campaign and is weary of the opposition’s quality.

Leverkusen has no points at the moment. But things might have gone differently — there’s a narrow line between success and failure. I know how to assess the results, and we will not let ourselves be deceived by zero points.

Die Roten’s new man went on to add, “We expect a tough fight,” which is wise considering the talent of Herrlich’s men and the importance of maintaining a positive start ahead of a grueling month of soccer for the Rekordmeister.

With young stars like Leon Bailey, Julian Brandt, Jonathan Tah and Kai Havertz alongside Kevin Volland, the Bender bros and quality at every position, Herrlich’s men are likely to bounce back sooner rather than later. Whether Herrlich continues at the helm remains to be seen, but Kovac is advocating for patience.