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Rummenigge denies interest in Julen Lopetegui and Erik ten Hag; tempers criticism of Kovac

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Bayern Munich’s CEO wants coach Niko Kovac to win a domestic double, while denying concrete interest in Julen Lopetegui and Ajax’s Erik ten Hag.

MUNICH, GERMANY - MAY 04: Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge of FC Bayern Muenchen looks on prior to the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Hannover 96 at Allianz Arena on May 4, 2019 in Munich, Germany. Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

In extensive comments at a sponsoring event, Bayern Munich CEO spoke at length about a variety of coaches, both Bayern’s own, Niko Kovac, and two men who have been linked to the club as Kovac’s potential successors: former Real Madrid and Spain coach Julen Lopetegui and Ajax’s own Erik ten Hag.

No contact, even less interest in Lopetegui

Rummenigge was particularly dismissive of a rumor alleging that sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic had secretly met with Lopetegui:

I don’t think that the meeting happened. I don’t know him [i.e. Lopetegui] well enough, I have to say quite openly and honestly. I haven’t followed him very much, neither with the [Spanish] national team nor at Real Madrid. We have never yet discussed that topic of coach at Bayern Munich.

Lopetegui was fired by Real Madrid in October after only 14 games. The Spanish national team had fired him just before the 2018 World Cup after learning that he had accepted the job at Real. It is highly unlikely to say the least that Bayern would seriously consider him a candidate.

Whether Ten Hag is someone for the future? “I don’t know.”

AFC Ajax’s dynamic coach Erik ten Hag was also naturally a topic. Rummenigge praised ten Hag’s success and recalled the circumstances in which he left Bayern Munich to pursue his coaching career elsewhere. Rummenigge effectively denied that Bayern are currently pursuing him by implying ten Hag might eventually be a candidate at some point in the future.

Ajax is playing a refreshing brand of soccer. I think it’s also nice that a team nobody expected then will potentially be in the final. I’m happy for Erik; he was with us for a couple of years [with Bayern II, 2013-2015], is a nice guy. I haven’t seen him continuously now. He didn’t leave us, after all, because we threw him out. The fact that he didn’t win promotion was almost a drama with that crazy goalkeeping error in the 94th minute. He played four years in the 4th Liga, had an offer to return to the professional league and he absolutely wanted to accept it. He then told Matthias Sammer that he’s like us to release him. Whether he’s someone for the future? I don’t know.

Kovac must deliver; Rummenigge’s wish

Rummenigge also was asked about his cool stance toward current Bayern head coach Niko Kovac. He reiterated his previous statement that everyone at Bayern “must deliver,” but he dismissed the notion of friction between himself and Kovac.

I’ve always said only that you have to deliver at Bayernn Munich. That’s true for everyone. That’s true for the coach, that’s true for the players, that’s true for the management. The whole system is build on the factor that we must be successful. We have enjoyed continuous success since the 1970s and we must also maintain it in the future. I have no problem whatsoever with the coach; he even said that too last week. We have no problem at all with each other. But there is a success-mindset at FC Bayern, and that’s necessary.

Must Kovac then win both remaining competitions? Is a domestic double a must for him? “A wish,” Rummenigge replied. “I wish for it.”