Niko Kovac has faced intense scrutiny during his first season in charge of Bayern Munich, but Bayern clinched their seventh consecutive Bundesliga title this weekend with a 5-1 thumping of Kovac’s former side, Eintracht Frankfurt. After the match and celebrations on the pitch, both Leon Goretzka and Niklas Sule made a point to ask fans and pundits to show more respect of Kovac (AZ).
When asked about Kovac’s future with Bayern, Goretzka simply stated that, especially after winning the title, the Croation should be given more respect:
On such a day on which you’re celebrating the title, everyone should be treated with due respect. I think that there was an extraordinary atmosphere in the arena today. A beautiful day.
While nothing that was the first time — at least for the current generation — that Bayern won the title on the last day of the season, Goretzka felt that Kovac should not have been the center of discussion after the team secured their 28th Meisterschale. He was asked how Kovac acted in the difficult situation prior to the match. Süle answered,
Unchanged compared to the entire season. We clinched the title on the last matchday; that’s something new for Bayern. But in return it was all the more emotional and a lovely story. Of course things are on another level here; everyone knows that. But I think it’s completely out of place to talk about the coach.
(Side note: Bayern has, in fact, clinched the title several times on the final matchday, perhaps most dramatically at the end of the 2000-2001 season, when Bayern passed Schalke on goal difference by equalizing against Hamburg in the 94th minute. Goretzka was six years old at the time.)
Süle was also asked about the questions surrounding Kovac. The towering defender backed his manager, pointing to Bayern’s performance on the pitch:
I have seen that the coach is being called into question. But I think that we gave the right answer on the pitch today.
Süle also commented sympathetically on the fan chants for Kovac, emphasizing how Bayern were able to overturn what was once a nine-point gap in favor of Borussia Dortmund:
Of course we have them. It started already before the game. Even before kickoff, his name was being called. Now you can also say that he didn’t prepare us badly for the game. We caught up a nine-point lead. That speaks for itself.
Süle said he’s excited to continue working under Kovac, and that the Croatian has done well to handle the pressure from the high expectations at Bayern. Would he like to continue with Kovac? “Of course,” he said.
We now have had a year under him. Of course everyone knows that Bayern is something very different from Eintracht Frankfurt or in my case now from TSG Hoffenheim. There is so much pressure here in the club and it’s not easy to deal with it.
Süle’s parting comment: “He did it magnificently.”