Any of us could meet him for a coffee – Neuer insists Kovac left Bayern on good terms

By Sports Desk November 07, 2019

Niko Kovac left his role as Bayern Munich coach on good enough terms with the players that any of them would be able to meet up with him for a coffee, according to captain Manuel Neuer.

Kovac had been under pressure for much of the early stages of the 2019-20 season due to underwhelming results and controversy surrounding his sparing use of fan favourite Thomas Muller.

The final straw came in Saturday's 5-1 humiliation at the Croatian's former employers Eintracht Frankfurt, with club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge later revealing "an open and serious conversation" the following day brought the hierarchy to the conclusion a change was needed.

Assistant coach Hansi Flick was placed in temporary charge and he presided over a 2-0 Champions League win at home to Olympiacos on Wednesday.

Despite Kovac's dismissal, Neuer insists none of the players hold any ill will towards the man who guided the club to a Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double in his only full campaign at the helm.

"I take my hat off to Niko and Robbie [Robert Kovac, former first-team coach and Niko's brother] as they have said goodbye," Neuer told reporters.

"I think that every player, if he meets Robbie or Niko, can look them in the eyes and drink a coffee together.

"It [the farewell] was emotional, of course, because we had a great time together. We wish him all the best. If we had played successfully, this would not have happened."

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been heavily linked with the job after Ralf Rangnick and Erik ten Hag distanced themselves from it.

Related items

  • Mancini's Italy end four-year absence from FIFA rankings elite Mancini's Italy end four-year absence from FIFA rankings elite

    Roberto Mancini has led resurgent Italy back into the top 10 of the FIFA rankings after a four-year absence.

    The Azzurri are four-time World Cup winners but last featured in the higher echelons in the August 2016 rankings.

    Failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup during Gian Piero Ventura's reign demonstrated their decline, but Mancini, who turned 56 on Friday, has engineered an impressive turnaround in fortunes.

    Italy were 20th on the FIFA list when Mancini took over as head coach in May 2018, but winning all 10 of their Euro 2020 qualifying matches not only re-established them as a major force, it has seen their ranking soar.

    Italy have reached the Nations League finals and are now unbeaten in 22 matches, their best such run since the year they won the World Cup in 2006.

    They enjoyed an 11-game winning streak within the current sequence and will be seeded for the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

    Mancini praised his squad's efforts earlier this month, saying on RAI Sport: "The players have done a great job because it has not always been easy.

    "We have tried to become more offensive with our play. You have to have the right mentality to do so and have a style of play that all the great teams have."

    Italy climbed from 12th to 10th place in the new rankings, while Mexico also jumped two places, rising to ninth.

    For Mexico the wait to rejoin the top 10 had been even longer than it was for Italy - with a nine-year span since they last featured.

    Belgium remain top of the list, ahead of France and Brazil.

     

    FIFA rankings top 10: 1 Belgium, 2 France, 3 Brazil, 4 England, 5 Portugal, 6 Spain, 7 Argentina, 8 Uruguay, 9 Mexico, 10 Italy.

  • Rumour Has It: Juve eye Man Utd's Van de Beek, Liverpool make bid for Ajax star Rumour Has It: Juve eye Man Utd's Van de Beek, Liverpool make bid for Ajax star

    Is Donny van de Beek already heading for an Old Trafford exit?

    Van de Beek made the move from Ajax to Manchester United at the start of the season.

    But he is reportedly wanted by Juventus in Italy.

     

    TOP STORY – VAN DE BEEK WANTED IN TURIN

    Juventus are plotting a move for Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek, according to Calciomercato.

    Van de Beek only swapped Eredivisie powerhouse Ajax for United at the start of the season, but he has struggled to cement a spot in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's XI.

    Serie A champions are reportedly trying to reunite Van de Beek with former Ajax team-mate Matthijs de Ligt in Turin.

     

    ROUND-UP

    - Corriere dello Sport report Liverpool have submitted a bid for Ajax centre-back Perr Schuurs. Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are injured at Anfield.

    Chelsea are eyeing a move for Atletico Madrid defender Jose Gimenez ahead of a 2021 transfer, says the Here We Go Podcast.

    - TodoFichajes claims Marseille star Florian Thauvin has agreed to join Milan on a free transfer.

    United have joined Premier League champions Liverpool in the race for Villarreal winger Samuel Chukwueze, according to La Razon. The 21-year-old has also impressed Chelsea.

    - Milan midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu wants to join United, reports Bild journalist Christian Falk. The Turkey international is out of contract at the end of the season. Juve, Atletico and Inter have all been linked.

    - Football Insider says Arsenal are interested in signing Salzburg sensation Dominik Szoboszlai on loan in January and loaning him back to the Austrian champions.

  • Tebas: I want Messi in LaLiga like I want Ronaldo, Mourinho, Guardiola and Klopp Tebas: I want Messi in LaLiga like I want Ronaldo, Mourinho, Guardiola and Klopp

    LaLiga president Javier Tebas said he wants Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi in Spain, just like he wants Cristiano Ronaldo, Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp in the league.

    Messi's future remains an important topic at embattled LaLiga giants Barca after he handed in a transfer request following a tumultuous 2019-20 season.

    The six-time Ballon d'Or winner was tipped to join Premier League powerhouse Manchester City before opting to remain in Spain, though he has since been linked to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Inter.

    Tebas was asked about Messi's future, and he played down the impact of the Argentina skipper's possible exit.

    "I want Messi in LaLiga, just as I want [Tottenham head coach] Mourinho, [City manager] Guardiola, [Liverpool boss] Klopp, [Juventus superstar] Cristiano…," Tebas said at the World Football Summit. "They all help you grow.

    "It's not essential. They're not as important as people say. Neymar left. It's necessary to have a strategy, a player can help you, but it's not essential.

    "We've got the deals done for the next four seasons in nearly all territories. It can affect sponsorships somewhat, but we've really worked hard on the league's brand and we wouldn't notice it.

    "I hope that Messi, who's the best player ever, finished his career here."

    Messi has spent his entire senior career at Camp Nou, where he emerged from Barca's youth team in 2004.

    Since debuting, Messi has become Barca's all-time leading scorer and won a club-record 34 trophies, including 10 LaLiga titles and four Champions League crowns.

    In 2020-21, Messi has scored three goals in eight LaLiga matches for 13th-placed Barca, who are 12 points adrift of leaders Real Sociedad.

    Messi has six goals across all competitions as Ronald Koeman's Barca struggle this season.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.