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Niko Kovac criticizes Jogi Löw over cutting three Bayern Munich players

Upon hearing that three of his players were forced out of the national team, the Bayern coach had some choice words.

Bayern Munich's Croatian headcoach Niko Kovac gives a wink to spectators during the team's training's session at the club's grounds in Munich, southern Germany, on March 5, 2019. - Bayern Munich has extended the contract of national player Serge Gnabry prematurely by three years until 2023. Photo by Christof Stache /AFP/Getty Images

Now a full two days after Thomas Müller, Mats Hummels, and Jerome Boateng were all told they’d no longer play for Germany, we’ve heard all three of their opinions on the matter. They were largely grateful for the time they had with Die Mannschaft but frustrated at how Löw went about dismissing them. Now that the players’ opinions are out, we can listen to Bayern manager Niko Kovac’s views of the situation (Bild).

Here’s his timeline of events:

He called me twice the day before yesterday [i.e. Tuesday], around 9 o’clock, but I was in a meeting. By the time I called him back he was already on the plane, I finally talked to him just before the players were informed.

This means that Kovac was informed about Löw’s decision perhaps minutes before it became official in the mid-afternoon of Thursday. Not much of a heads up for the manager of the biggest German club in terms of talent and the number of players it contributes to the national team.

As for the decision itself, Kovac had this to say:

I know that my three players were disappointed. I don’t think it’s right to be written off as old scrap at the ages of 29 or 30. The national coach is responsible for the sporting matters and has made the decision. He has to answer for it.

Kovac has a point there. Particularly for center-backs, 29 turning 30 is a prime age. Mats Hummels may have had a forgettable Hinrunde, but his contributions to fixing Bayern’s Keystone Kop defense can’t go unnoticed. Players like Antonio Rüdiger, Niklas Süle, and Thilo Kehrer may be the next generation of German talent, but it’s tough to create that from scratch. One would thing it’s easier to have former World Cup winners on the same team to gradually bring the next talent in. Löw led a youth revolution earlier in his tenure. We’ll have to see whether he can do it again.

To conclude, Kovac had some inspirational words:

Our run of form has given us wings. The body language of my players tells me they know that now’s the time to finish!

This is a crucial point of the season for Bayern: they’ve drawn level with Dortmund at the top of the table and have potential to make a real run into the deep stages of the Champions League. They can’t afford to let this situation affect how they perform for the rest of the season. In fact, winning titles as a piece of “scrap” might just be the best way to show Jogi Löw what he’ll be missing.

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