Niko Kovac conducted his last training session at Bayern Munich on Sunday morning. After the morning session ended, Kovac told the players, “Till Tuesday!” They had Monday off to get their heads clear. He was determined to keep fighting. He kept his word and returned to Säbener Strasse to see the players on Tuesday, but he was no longer their coach.
After meeting with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Uli Hoeness, and Hasan Salihamidzic, Kovac ultimately accepted responsibility for the team’s poor performances and offered his resignation. A man of honor to the end, by resigning, Kovac also thus declined to accept any of his remaining salary per his contract. Hoeness told the press Monday that he had spoken with Kovac on the phone and that “everything was ok” between him and the club.
The Kovac brothers thanked the entire Bayern staff by email and promised they will continue to follow the club as fans.
A difficult farewell
On Tuesday morning, Kovac returned to Säbener Strasse to bid farewell to the players in person. According to Bild’s account, the meeting was scheduled for 9:15, and every player arrived punctually “despite heavy traffic in Munich.” Hasan Salihamidzic was on hand ahead of time, and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge joined them for the meeting.
Kovac spoke to the team and thanked them for working with him. He left at 9:40 and went about his day. Bild tailed him as he made a stop at the bank, and then he politely took his leave of the reporters.
Joshua Kimmich revealed at Bayern’s press conference later that day that “the farewell was of course anything but easy” (TZ)
That was not easy this morning on account of the mood. It’s always also for us players something of a failure. It means that we players have to question ourselves — and improve.
Kimmich said that the players now bear primary responsibility for their performances:
There’s no more alibi or excuse for anyone. The excuse of the coach is now gone, and we have to see that we win tomorrow’s game.
Interim head coach Hansi Flick also praised Kovac and contradicted the notion that Kovac was “at a loss,” as suggested by Bild in their account of his final video analysis session. Flick said,
Niko is never at a loss. I have learned to appreciate him as a person, and he is always forthright. Those are things that I value very highly. We are on good terms and he said farewell with style. It was tough for many there. We had worked together well and successfully for a year and a half, and something like that obviously leaves a mark on you.
Flick said that the training session afterward went very well. “The team was very active and I think understands that they are now responsible. I’m looking forward to the game tomorrow.”
Alles Gute, Niko!