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Karl-Heinz Rummenigge: no job guarantee for Niko Kovac at Bayern Munich

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Bayern Munich’s CEO criticized head coach Niko Kovac’s former rotation policy and previous defensive tactics despite the 5-0 drubbing the team gave Dortmund.

FC Augsburg v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga
AUGSBURG, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 15: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, CEO of Bayern Muenchen looks on during a tv interview before the Bundesliga match between FC Augsburg and FC Bayern Muenchen at WWK-Arena on February 15, 2019 in Augsburg, Germany.
FC Augsburg v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga AUGSBURG, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 15: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, CEO of Bayern Muenchen looks on during a tv interview before the Bundesliga match between FC Augsburg and FC Bayern Muenchen at WWK-Arena on February 15, 2019 in Augsburg, Germany.
(Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

In an appearance together with Borussia Dortmund chairman Jörg Watzke on Wontorra — der Fußball Talk (via Tz), Karl-Heinz Rummenigge discussed Niko Kovac’s first season in charge of Bayern Muinch, which has had its fair share of ups and downs to say the least. Bayern’s massive 5-0 win over Dortmund put the team back on top of the Bundesliga table. With only six matches remaining, the race is likely going to come down to the wire as only a point separates the two clubs, although Bayern possesses a superior goal differential.

Rummenigge emphasized that Bayern still have plenty of work to do, “We still have six hard games. Including away games.” Beating Dortmund so emphatically was a massive hurdle cleared, and even Hans-Joachim Watzke praised Bayern’s performance on Saturday, “That was the best from FC Bayern in the past few years; our performance was utterly inacceptable,” the BVB CEO said.

Poor results in the early season had put Kovac under the proverbial microscope, prompting questions about his future with Bayern. In particular, Kovac’s rotation policy in certain matches seemed to be one of the main culprits for Bayern dropping unnecessary points. That is how Rummenigge views Kovac’s rotation policy at the time:

As for what happened in October and November, we tripped ourselves up. The coach rotated in grand style. I’m a bitter enemy of rotation. I’m a friend of having the best eleven in the starting lineup. Then seven players are mad sitting on the bench, but that’s what they have to do.

At the tail end of Bayern’s rough patch in the fall, the club’s front office apparently instructed Kovac that things had to change:

We discussed and corrected that in November. You can rotate a little, with two to three people, but not with five. Then the structure totters. Rotation was taking place not according to performance. The nadir was the 3:3 against Düsseldorf. It was clear to us that we had to have an internal discussion so that we could get back on our feet. We were fifth at the time.

Photo by Matthias Balk/picture alliance via Getty Images

Not only Kovac’s rotation policy troubled the front office. They also were not pleased with the highly defensive, counter-attacking style Kovac has used in several important games, most prominently in the scoreless away leg against Liverpool in the Champions League. Rummenigge felt the disappointing result in the following home game was due to a bloodless, un-Bayern-like performance:

I was frustrated after the Liverpool game. We’re playing without courage in front of 70,000. Attack full on, then things would have gone better. That’s our style of play. Our style of play is dominant, focused on possession.

Rummenigge wants to see Bayern play in the last few games as aggressively as they did against Dortmund:

We had two months that didn’t run well. Now we have to tackle the last six games in the style we saw yesterday. If we play offensively and press, then the individual quality is so great that it’s hard to win even one point against us.

Liverpool v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Even after beating Dortmund 5:0 in the Klassiker and going back to the top of the table, Niko Kovac cannot assume he is untouchable, Rummenigge said:

There are no job guarantees with us. For no one. Everyone who works for Bayern Munich has to deliver. Whoever can’t deal with pressure is at the wrong club.

The goal for the season remains winning the double. For now, there is “nothing against” having Kovac see out his contract. “No one at Bayern Munich has called him into question,” Rummenigge concluded.