It’s never easy being the manager of Bayern Munich, but Niko Kovac has probably had it rougher than most. The team is currently leading the Bundesliga and headed to the final of the DFB Pokal, but there are still doubts about whether Kovac will still have a job next season.
This isn’t an article defending the coach or pointing out why he should be sacked. We’ve already been over both of those topics (see here and here). Instead, it was inspired by a recent report by TZ (seemingly corroborated per “retweet” by Sport Bild’s Christian Falk), which states that Uli Hoeness — one of Kovac’s biggest supporters among the Bayern bosses — is having doubts after the team’s performance against Nürnberg.
The report claims that the bosses will conduct an internal assessment of Kovac after the season. So, what might they conclude? It will probably depend on how Kovac closes out the remaining three matches of the year, so let’s take a look at the (realistic) possible scenarios:
Scenario 1: Double win, all remaining games won
If Niko Kovac wins the double while still winning all the remaining games this season — which as of right now includes RB Leipzig away, Eintracht Frankfurt at home, and RB Leipzig in the DFB Pokal final in Berlin — then he will definitely keep his job. Winning the double isn’t something that a Bayern manager has done since Pep Guardiola managed it in 2015/16, and even for Guardiola it wasn’t always smooth sailing domestically.
For Kovac to win a double in a transition year for Bayern, in a season that has seen a surge in quality from fellow Bundesliga teams (Borussia Dortmund and Frankfurt being the standout performers), it would definitely warrant at least a few more months in charge of Bayern Munich.
Conclusion: Kovac stays.
Scenario 2: Double win, points dropped
This is a more complicated scenario than the previous one. Now that Borussia Dortmund has dropped points against Werder Bremen last week, Bayern can secure the title with a single win or two draws, even if BVB wins all their remaining games.
Failure to win all remaining league games should not detract from the double, but more Nürnberg-esque performances could really hurt Kovac in the eyes of the bosses, especially if Bayern cuts it really close. However, a double is a double, and it’s unlikely that they would fire him, so long as both trophies are brought home.
At worst, Kovac shouldn’t expect any of his potential transfer requests to be granted — i.e. no Luka Jovic for Bayern Munich. But seeing as it’s unlikely they would be granted in the first place, that is probably not an issue.
Conclusion: Kovac stays.
Scenario 3: Bundesliga win, no points dropped
Missing out on the DFB Pokal would be a huge blow to Niko Kovac, even if he manages to win all his remaining games in the Bundesliga. A Bundesliga title should be the bare minimum for a Bayern Munich coach, and doing the bare minimum isn’t going to give the bosses confidence in handing Kovac the keys to the most expensive rebuild in the club’s history.
However, if Kovac does win the remaining games in respectable fashion, and perhaps loses on penalties in the Pokal final, he could keep his job by the skin of his teeth.
Conclusion: 60% chance that Kovac stays.
Scenario 4: Bundesliga win, points dropped
This scenario would be pretty devastating, and there’s very little that Kovac could do to save his job in such a situation. If Bayern “only” win the Bundesliga, you can expect the bosses to immediately begin calling up and negotiating with potential replacements — be it Tottenham Hotspur’s Maurcio Pochettino or Ajax’s Erik ten Hag.
The only way Kovac could keep his job in this scenario is if all the potential candidates deemed “suitable” by the bosses reject Bayern’s advances. That’s pretty unlikely to happen, but it’s not impossible.
Conclusion: 20% chance that Kovac stays.
Scenario 5: Pokal only
This is about the same as going trophy-less. The Pokal IS a trophy, for sure — but let’s be honest, no one really cares if Bayern Munich wins the Pokal. The DFB Pokal is pretty meaningless on its own, without a Bundesliga or Champions League victory to go along with it.
Simply put, there’s no way Kovac would continue as manager if he fails to win the Bundesliga, especially now that he has a four-point lead with two games left to play.
Conclusion: Kovac fired.
Scenario 6: Trophyless
If the above conditions seem rather harsh for a new manager, that’s because they are. But that’s to be expected at a club such as Bayern Munich. This summer, Uli Hoeness and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge will embark on an ambitious rebuilding project that will define the club for the next decade. They want to make sure that the right person is in place to oversee that project at the squad-level. For Kovac to prove that he is that man, he has to excel in some way — at the very least, winning the league title is a must.
That’s what it means to be the manager of Bayern Munich.