Coach Roulette in the Bundesliga
German football is experiencing something which it has never ever seen before. The clubs are in a hire-and-fire mode with even established clubs joining the mayhem which is resulting in coaches being exchanged like never before likewise the news is out this month on coaches leaving or forced to leave at the end of the season.
Veteran coach Jupp Heynckes had said before the weekends matches, “At the moment, the Bundesliga is a madhouse. The average football fan has trouble understanding it.”
Now yesterday Heynckes himself became part of this carousel for coaches by announcing that he would not extend his contract with Bayer 04 Leverkusen. This meant Bayer 04 where now searching for a replacement and they found that in Freiburg in Robin Dutt, who is leaving them with a year still left on his contract and the reserve team coach Marcus Sorg will replace him. In Leverkusen Heynckes left it open if he would retire or return to his former club FC Bayern Munich.
At Bayern Munich things looked fine with coach Louis van Gaal after the club won the double and reached the final of the UEFA Champions League last season, but this term things weren’t working out with the club having problems in league. For Bayern reaching the Champions League is a must and once it became clear that this aim was in danger the club was on the verge of firing van Gaal. They in the end didn’t but decided it was time to part ways at the end of the season. And Bayern wanted former coach Heynckes as the replacement though rumours have said that the club has also shown interest in Germany coach Joachim Loew before he signed an extension, German technical director Matthias Sammer, Turkey coach Guus Hiddink, while in England the rumour has made rounds about former Bayern player and current Fulham boss Mark Hughes coming to the Saebener Strasse.
Elsewhere at FC Schalke 04 things looked similar in the summer. The Ruhr club finished second, Champions League football guaranteed, all looked fine for the royal blues. But Magath like he has done at earlier clubs started to rebuild the squad by buying and selling numerous players. But one of the main strengths of Schalke is the identification of the fans with the club. That was getting lost with Magath even on the board of the club. The club had reached the German Cup final and the last eight of the Champions League, but in the Bundesliga the results weren’t good. The club was looking for reasons, so the many transfers and discrepencies there seemed to be the route out. A board meeting was conviened and out was Magath.
But not even 48 hours later Magath was back in the Bundesliga. His former club VfL Wolfsburg are fighting against relegation with a squad which cost owners Volkswagen tens of millions. The experiment with the first English coach in the Bundesliga in Steve McClaren failed and his assistant Pierre Littbarski also couldn’t turn things around, so in a desparate attempt the VW bosses got in touch with Magath and suddenly he was back with most of the powers he had when he left the club in 2009 as Bundesliga champions.
Schalke 04 have since named former coach Ralf Rangnick as the new coach, who had left the club due to differences with the board in 2005 and the same people are still in charge. Rangnick meanwhile had left 1899 Hoffenheim in the first few days of the year in mutual consent. Hoffenheim supremo Dietmar Hopp and manager Ernst Tanner had sold a player without the okay from the coach, then his assistant Marco Pezzaiuoli took over.
The same happened at Hamburger SV about 10 days back when Armin Veh was fired after a 0-6 trashing against Bayern Munich. It had been decided that Veh would leave the club at the end of the season, but events on the field forced the club to act swiftly and they promoted Veh’s assistant Michael Oenning to the top job. Oenning has until the end of the season to prove himself, if he can convince the management then he might get an extension. But in all this turmoil the club also lost their managing director Bernd Hoffmann, who had to leave the club too; while the search for a director of sports had been a topic for close to 20 months but there the club found an answer in Frank Arnesen.
And today the mayhem continued with Eintracht Frankfurt firing their coach Michael Skibbe and seasoned Christoph Daum is set to take over. What makes this firing even more bizarre is the fact that Frankfurt won their match against FC St. Pauli over the weekend. While over a month back bottom of the table Borussia Moenchengladbach had already fired Michael Frontzeck and brought in Swiss coach Lucien Favre, but still they are bottom of the league.
Luckily this week there is an international break, so the fans can check who is actually coaching which club. And one never knows more might be in store for us…