Kovac's Bayern job safe: Rummenigge

Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac celebrating winning the German Cup with his players. There had been talk that he would be sacked even if the club did win the league and Cup double.
Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac celebrating winning the German Cup with his players. There had been talk that he would be sacked even if the club did win the league and Cup double.PHOTO: REUTERS

BERLIN • Bayern Munich chief executive officer Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has all but confirmed Niko Kovac's position was safe after the Bundesliga champions secured the domestic double with a 3-0 victory over RB Leipzig in the German Cup final on Saturday.

The Bayern coach has fought off relentless criticism in his first year in charge of the Bavarian giants, as well as rumours that he would be sacked even if the club did win the league and Cup double.

But their emphatic win over Leipzig appeared to end speculation over the Croat's future, as home fans chanted his name before kick-off and after the final whistle.

Rummenigge, who was considered one of Kovac's strongest boardroom critics this season, also told German broadcaster ARD that parting company with 47-year-old was "never an issue".

He said: "We never questioned whether he would be here next season, that was never a topic for us. At the end of the day, trophies are what is expected at Bayern. The coach plays a central role here."

The German added that while it had been a "curious" term, with the team undergoing several rocky patches during the year and were also convincingly knocked out of the Champions League in the round of 16 by Liverpool.

However, having played "amazingly" at the Olympiastadion for their 12th double and 19th Cup, the victory was a final vindication for Kovac, whose team overcame a nine-point deficit from rivals Borussia Dortmund to lift the Bundesliga title for a seventh straight time.

Admitting he knew "how difficult the job is", the former Eintracht Frankfurt coach, who paid tribute to the travelling support with a loudspeaker at the full-time whistle, told ARD: "I had to stay calm. Trophies are important.

"I thanked the fans, without them, we would not have made it out of the hole we were in earlier in the season

"Last year, I cried because I was leaving the club (Eintracht). This year, it was a bit less emotional but the emotions are always there."

Kovac is now the first coach to have won the Cup in two successive seasons with two different clubs, having beaten Bayern with his former team in last year's final.

Robert Lewandowski's brace and a late strike from Kingsley Coman sealed the victory and, afterwards, the Poland striker dedicated the trophy to long-serving teammates Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.

The duo will be departing the Allianz Arena in the summer on a free transfer, and Lewandowski told ARD that "they have done so much for the club and we have to thank them".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2019, with the headline 'Kovac's Bayern job safe: Rummenigge'. Print Edition | Subscribe