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Daily Schmankerl: Who replaces Niko Kovac? getting to know Hansi Flick, Chris Richards scores, chaos in Berlin, Balotelli says no to racism, and more!

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Niko Kovac is the first coach to leave his post in the Bundesliga this season. Who will Bayern Munich hire to replace him?

SV Meppen v Bayern Muenchen II - 3. Liga Photo by Michael Titgemeyer/Getty Images for DFB

Who will Bayern Munich pursue to replace Niko Kovac?

Yesterday was the day: after initial reports that Niko Kovac would be allowed to coach at least the next two matches, against Olympiacos and Borussia Dortmund, an afternoon conversation with Bayern’s shot-callers, CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, President Uli Hoeness, and Sporting Director Hasan Salihamidzic, led Kovac to submit his resignation. Assistant coach Hansi Flick now will serve as caretaker, and Bayern must seek a new solution.

  • One rumored replacement is 52-year-old Massimiliano Allegri, who is currently clubless. Allegri last coach Juventus Turin from 2014 to 2019, whom he led to five straight championships, four-consecutive domestic doubles, and two Champions League finals. He left at the end of the 2018/19 season.
  • Ajax Amsterdam’s Erik ten Hag is another strong candidate. Just two weeks ago, he acknowledged that he would not rule anything out and looked back fondly on the time he spent as coach of Bayern II during Pep Guardiola’s tenure.
  • But the most special candidate is none other than José Mourinho. Mourinho has been unemployed since Manchester United cut ties with him last season (and possibly regret it). Mourinho was already rumored to be a candidate to replace Lucien Favre, who has now outlasted Kovac. Much has been made of Mourinho’s statement that he is trying to learn German. The Bundesliga is something of a final frontier for him — at least among Europe’s top leagues. But Mourinho comes with extensive baggage and his egocentric personality would be a poor fit at Bayern where the biggest egos work in the front office or serve on the board. But stranger things have happened.
  • Mauricio Pochettino is one last name that has been rumored to attract some interest. It seems doubtful, though, that Bayern would go after a coach whose team they just demolished 7-2 at home and whose struggles after facing Liverpool in last season’s Champions League final are well known.
  • The names Arsene Wenger and Ralf Rangnick have been tossed about, but both these seem like long shots. Wenger, now 70 years old, is semi-retired, but he could theoretically come back to have a shot at glory with a team other than Arsenal twenty years ago... But would Bayern’s front office really want him? Before Arsenal dropped to the Europa League, Bayern treated them as a Champions League punching bag.
    As for Rangnick, he is indeed a brilliant, highly successful coach and manager, but that’s the crux: he brings it all and in turn will want more power than Bayern’s front office would be willing to give him. It just is not the Bayern way to grant an outsider that much influence, and Rangnick also has powerful critics within the club, above all Uli Hoeness.

“Niko, Come to Arsenal!” (caughtoffside)

It may shock you to learn that many Arsenal fans hate coach Unai Emery, who also may or may not be hated by many of his players, some of whom the fans also hate. Hate.

Where was I? Oh, right: Arsenal fans hate Emery so much, that as soon as word broke that Bayern Munich and Niko Kovac had agreed to part ways, many of them took to Twitter to urge the club to jump on the #KovacIn train. This one is my favorite:

Get to know Hansi Flick (Bundesliga.com)

Like a well-timed obituary, Bundesliga.com swiftly published a full-length article “Hansi Flick: 5 things on Bayern Munich’s new interim coach.” In a nutshell, what do you need to know about this man who will coach Bayern presumably until the end of this season?

  1. Bayern DNA: Flick played for Bayern in the latter half of the 1980s, winning four Bundesliga titles and one DFB Pokal. He left in 1990 and hung up his boots two years later at the age of 28 on account of injuries.
  2. Turned down a contract with Stuttgart to finish training as a bank clerk in 1983/84.
  3. Flick earned his pro coaching license in 2000 and coached Hoffenheim for five years, earning them promotion from the 4th to the 3.Liga (Ralf Rangnick took them the rest of the way).
  4. Flick was appointed Joachim Löw’s assistant in 2006 just after Klinsmann resigned. And... they went on to win the World Cup 2014.
  5. Honored in his hometown, Flick became sporting director of the DFB from 2014 to 2017. And here we are.

Chaos erupts in first Union and Hertha Berlin Bundesliga derby (ESPN)

Chris Richards scores first goal for Bayern II!

Chris Richards, one of our absolute favorite FC Bayern prospects, scored his debut goal for Bayern II yesterday on a fantastic header. Although Richards gave the team a 2-1 lead, which they increased to 3-1, the game fell rapidly apart when Joshua Zirkzee was sent off on a yellow-red in the 80th minute. Meppen won 5-3.

VAR does MLB’s “Replay Review” one better

If you also happen to be a baseball fan, you will be aware of you slow-motion replay review has sucked the joy out of many a close play where a runner slides into a base, beats the throw, but he comes off the base for a fraction of a second that the naked eye could never detect while the tag is applied. The defending team calls for a review, and the review team in Secaucus, NJ, calls him out.

Now VAR is splitting those hairs, too. Roberto Firmino was flagged offside in the above scene. Offside by... an armpit?

The fundamental problem of these replay calls, in my opinion, in both baseball and soccer, is this: the rules of the game are black and white but were not originally intended to be enforced by machine. At least for soccer, I would suggest that VAR crews adopt an official buffer zone of two or three inches in which the official ruling is “call stands,” whatever it was. Having VAR referee a game with laser precision, instead of correcting blatant officiating mistakes or missed calls, does not improve the game.

Hannover 96 fires head coach Mirko Slomka

Bayern Munich was not the only team in Germany to part ways with its coach. Hannover 96 also decided to dismiss Mirko Slomka after yet another matchday saw them drop to 13th on the 2.Liga table. Sporting director Jan Schlaudraff said, “Unfortunately, it was not possible to bring the team’s development forward as we had hoped. Six home games without a win in particular was ultimately simply too little.”

Matthijs De Ligt scores his first goal for Juventus Turin — even Ronaldo is happy

It took time, but Matthijs De Ligt is finally settling in at Juventus Turin. Yesterday, as Juventus played local rival FC Torino, De Ligt at last connected on a set piece to score his first goal for Juventus in th 70th minute. But it was not the typical center-back’s header off a corner. The kick went to Gonzalo Higuaín at the far corner. Higuaín sent the ball back inside and De Ligt struck it on the volley to score. Nice goal!

Mario Balotelli protests racist abuse, scores stunner

Mario Balotelli had enough of the racist abuse hurled his way by fans of Verona and abruptly punted the ball into the stands and threatened to walk off the pitch in protest. After initial confusion, both teams showed their solidarity with the controversial player. Balotelli later scored a fantastic shot, although Brescia still lost 2-1.

Thanks to all my colleagues on and off the pitch for the solidarity with my conflicts and for all the messages I received from your fans.. heartfelt thanks. You showed you are real men, unlike those who deny the facts.

FC Kaiserslautern slips into the relegation zone in the 3.Liga (Transfermarkt)

FK Kaiserslautern is a historic Bundesliga club founded 119 years ago and one of the 16 original members of the Bundesliga in 1963. The Red Devils famously won the Bundesliga in 1997/98 the very year after winning promotion from the 2. Liga. (They oddly won the DFB Pokal in 1996, while suffering relegation to the 2.Liga!) Ensuing financial turmoil and other problems, however, sent them toppling back down to the 2. Liga in 2012, and they fell to the 3.Liga (competing now against Bayern II) in 2018. How far will they fall?