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Pensive Niko Kovac pleads for empathy and discusses life after Bayern Munich

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Bayern Munich’s embattled head coach responded to reporters’ questions about his future with reflections on the Golden Rule and his own beliefs — and never giving up.

MUNICH, GERMANY - MAY 16: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Niko Kovac, head coach of Bayern Muenchen smiles during a FC Bayern Muenchen training session at Saebener Strasse training ground on May 16, 2019 in Munich, Germany.
Life is too short not to smile for Niko Kovac at a training session at Säbener Straße, May 16, 2019.
Photo by A. Hassenstein/Getty Images for FC Bayern

It has been a tumultuous first season for Niko Kovac. In his press conference before the final game of the 2018-2019 Bundesliga season, Kovac reflected on his experiences in his first year at Germany’s biggest, most high-pressure club. Kovac’s first year at Bayern Munich taught him most, in his own words, about the need for empathy for one’s fellow man:

It was very instructive. I realized how hard it is to stay human. Mankind is a very, very difficult species. You can figure it out for yourself. When we talk to one another, we have to maintain a certain level that we can never go below. We have to learn that our world has to become better. We have to see our fellow man more — more empathy.

Kovac continued that thought by drawing a distinction between physical pain and spiritual suffering, possibly alluding to a physical confrontation between Robert Lewandowski and Kingsley Coman in training:

If I were to smack you, you would feel pain for a brief time. But what’s worse? The soul. We have to see the person, not always pile on. There was an incident earlier — all of us said: “That can’t happen anymore.” It didn’t take two weeks and everything was forgotten.

As readers here at BFW know all to well, there has been constant speculation in the German media as to whether Bayern Munich might dismiss Niko Kovac after the conclusion of the season if he does not win the club a domestic double and potentially even if he does. Kovac acknowledged the rumors, but stressed he will never give up. He is here because he loves to be here:

When someday I’m no longer there [at Bayern], I’ll live my life exactly the same way. For me, money is not the primary goal. Whatever happens, happens. I want to influence it with titles and a good performance. If things turn out otherwise, then that’s how it is. I have never given up in my life. And that will never happen either.

Kovac’s deferred to others for an assessment of the season, but he stressed that the team had weathered a year of transition and improved significantly since its crisis in the fall. Kovac said,

That’s not up to me; other people have to do that. We want to be the champions now. If you give me or us a good grade, we’ll be happy to take it. You have to take everything into consideration in an assessment, including titles. But anyone can state goals. Not just in sports. And you additionally have to take the team’s development into consideration. We’re in the midst of a transition. But things have been looking up since November. If you take that into consideration, I think, we’re well on our way.

Fans and observers alike continue to wonder what Niko Kovac’s fate at Bayern Munich will be after the conclusion of the season. Kovac is under contract with the club through June 2021, but club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has pointedly denied any “job guarantees” at Bayern Munich, regardless. Kovac himself meanwhile appears determined to soldier on exactly as he has.