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Willy Sagnol: “sad and irritated” by unceremonious exit at Bayern Munich

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Interim coach for a single game after Carlo Ancelotti’s dismissal, Willy Sagnol still finds it hard to talk about his exit from Bayern Munich.

Borussia Dortmund v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg
Willy Sagnol at BVB vs PSG, February 18, 2020.
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Bayern Munich legend and former assistant coach Willy Sagnol spoke candidly about his disappointment in the way his involvement with Bayern came to an abrupt end in 2017 in an interview with SPORT1. Sagnol’s comments draw a marked contrast to the picture of a family-like atmosphere that Bayern usually strives to project. Sagnol seems to have found himself as the odd man out.

Sagnol served as interim coach after the abrupt dismissal of Carlo Ancelotti in the fall of 2017. After Jupp Heynckes arrived with his own coaching staff, Sagnol was offered a different position in the club, but declined it. He remained under contract with Bayern until 2019.

“I was sad and irritated,” he said of his feelings after he was stripped of his coaching position. “When you work as Carlo’s assistant, then you hope for a long relationship. It didn’t work out. The situation at Bayern was difficult, and I still find it hard to talk about it. The way it played out — that wasn’t the FC Bayern that I knew anymore.”

Sagnol’s unceremonious dismissal left him disappointed: “Parting ways in this club always happened with stile; in my case, that was unfortunately not the case. But I’m not angry about it. I’m still a massive Bayern fan and always sit on the sofa and cross my fingers for my ex-club. Bayern was and still always is the club of my heart.”

Sagnol said he still talks on the phone with Uli Hoeness and has several friends at the club. Despite that abiding affection, though, Sagnol feels that things have “changed somewhat” at Säbener Strasse.

“In my time, things were very family-like in the club. I have the feeling that that is not so much the case today. Back then, everything was nowhere near as big as today. The relationships between the different departments were closer; there weren’t about 600 employees back then. It was a fantastic time then.”

On a lighter note, SPORT1 asked Sagnol about the story that he routinely smoked cigarettes in the locker room bathroom after games. How did he “manage to run up and down the sidelines” as Bayern’s right-back as a smoker?

“I didn’t smoke two packs a day,” Sagnol replied, laughing. “What should I say today? I always wanted to have my cigarette after a game. That’s just how it was, and I knew that it wasn’t good. It should not be an example for young professionals out there today.”

The contrast led Sagnol to reflect on differences in the soccer landscape of then and today: “But soccer in my day was different,” he said, “There was much more acceptance between individuals than today. Today, people always look for something negative in a player or coach. Only what might be problematic is singled out. Society is too negative. I get the impression that it isn’t so important how a player plays but rather how he talks. It wasn’t like that back then. If you always gave your all, then you were forgiven for a mistake. Soccer has become too important, but it’s only a sport. You have to have fun in your sport first.”

Sagnol also spoke fondly of Uli Hoeness in particular and related a few anecdotes about Oliver Kahn and Mehmet Scholl in the interview. After living for two years in Bordeaux, where his son was recovering from an illness, he says he is now ready to take on a new coaching project.