Flick to remain interim Bayern coach for rest of 2019

By Sports Desk November 15, 2019

Hansi Flick will remain interim Bayern Munich coach for at least the rest of 2019, CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge announced on Friday.

Bayern placed Flick in charge after Niko Kovac left the post in the wake of a 5-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt – their heaviest Bundesliga loss since April 2009 – on November 2.

The former Germany assistant coach led Bayern to a 2-0 Champions League victory over Olympiacos in his first match at the helm and followed it up with a 4-0 Klassiker crushing of Borussia Dortmund last weekend.

The performances earned Flick the confidence of Rummenigge, outgoing president Uli Hoeness and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.

"Uli, Hasan and I publicly announced after the Dortmund match Hansi would be our coach until further notice," Rummenigge said at Bayern's annual general meeting.

"[On Thursday] we decided that he will be coach at least until Christmas and possibly beyond. We trust Hansi Flick."

A host of candidates were linked with the position after Kovac departed.

Ajax boss Erik ten Hag ruled himself out of immediate contention, while former RB Leipzig coach Ralf Rangnick reportedly turned down an approach from the Bavarian giants.

Pep Guardiola, Massimiliano Allegri and Jose Mourinho have all been touted as potential long-term targets, as was Arsene Wenger until being appointed FIFA's chief of global football development this week.

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    There was joy and relief as the final whistle blew at Voith-Arena on July 6… Werder Bremen had somehow managed to preserve the club's Bundesliga status by the skin of their teeth.

    Four-time German champions Werder survived a dramatic promotion/relegation play-off against second-tier side Heidenheim on away goals following the 2-2 second-leg draw.

    After a goalless stalemate in the opening leg, Werder were pushed to the brink by Heidenheim, who restored parity via Tim Kleindienst's 97th-minute penalty but Ludwig Augustinsson's goal three minutes earlier ensured the visitors' place in Germany's top flight next season.

    It capped a forgettable campaign for Werder, who scraped into the play-off with a 6-1 thrashing of Cologne on the final day of the 2019-20 coronavirus-affected season after finishing just a point above the automatic relegation zone as Fortuna Dusseldorf and Paderborn went down.

    Rewind back to 2018-19 and Werder had managed a joint-best domestic campaign since finishing third a decade ago – eighth position.

    "The last weeks have been a horror because I've had sleepless nights," former striker Wynton Rufer – who won four major trophies during his time in Bremen, including the 1992-93 Bundesliga title – told Stats Perform News.

    "Last season, they had probably their best season in probably 10 years, just missed out on Europe. They were able to retain most of the squad and then add to it with top-quality signings and despite that, just had a horror of a season. A lot of injuries at the start but to play as badly as they did, we're just so grateful they managed to stay up."

    Florian Kohfeldt's Werder had looked set for automatic demotion, having spent matchdays 21-33 in 17th place.

    But Werder – who hold the record for most seasons in the Bundesliga but have not lifted the trophy since 2004 – fought to avoid a similar fate to that of rivals Hamburg and Stuttgart, relegation to 2.Bundesliga.

    Hamburg were relegated in 2017-18 and capitulated as they missed out on a return to the top tier in 2019-20, while Stuttgart – demoted in two of the past four seasons – secured promotion this term.

    "You can see how difficult it is with Hamburg and Stuttgart," Oceania Footballer of the Century Rufer said. "Stuttgart came up now but it didn't happen straight away. I believe their budget for the first division was similar in the second division because of their big sponsor. In Hamburg, it was the same story where they didn't really have to have much of a lesser budget for the second division because of their billionaire part-owner.

    "But with Werder Bremen, if they had got relegated even though it's the 10th biggest city in Germany, they don't really have the support through a sponsor or individual. Their budget this season is about €150million, it probably would've went down to €50-70m and 150 people would've probably lost their jobs. For the city, it would've been a total disaster."

    Rufer knows the club and city of Bremen better than most, having spent six successful years at Weserstadion.

    Prised to the club by legendary boss Otto Rehhagel in 1989, New Zealander Rufer won the Bundesliga, the UEFA Cup Winners Cup (1992), two DFB-Pokal trophies (1991, 1994) and as many DFB-Supercups (1993, 1994), while he was the Champions League's top goalscorer in 1993-94.

    "It was obviously a very special time," Rufer said. "A big opportunity came when Otto Rehhagel tried to sign me over two seasons. He finally got me in the second season [from Grasshoppers].

    "It was a big move for any player. Werder Bremen at that time, they'd just won the Bundesliga two years previously. The year before they made the semi-final of the European Cup. They were kicking the ball around with the big boys.

    "I had the opportunity to go and play there. It was amazing. I was able to quickly establish myself, played really well and scored goals. Played in European Cups – the first season we knocked out UEFA Cup holders Napoli. Diego Maradona leading that Napoli side. It was a pretty special time. I was fortunate to be a starting member all those seasons and in those big games."

    Rufer has also frequently travelled to Bremen to celebrate the anniversary of the club's successes, while he convinced United States star Josh Sargent to join the North German outfit in 2018.

    "I've had the opportunity to be like a scout in most Decembers," Rufer added. "I've been going to Florida to look at American players because that market has grown a lot. I managed to convince Josh Sargent to sign for Werder Bremen, even though Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City were all after him. I was able to convince his family to sign with Bremen because he'd get game time and that's happened, despite almost getting relegated."

    So, where to now for Werder in 2020-21? After their narrow escape and disappointing season, 37-year-old head coach Kohfeldt will remain at the helm.

    "Apart from Dortmund and Bayern Munich, who you know will be up there again… the rest of the league are just battling away to qualify for Europe and stay up," Rufer added.

    "It wouldn't surprise me if they went through now and qualified for Europe next season. They put on a fantastic season two years ago. It was the injuries at the start of the season. They would've looked at that now. It might sound crazy but I don't think they have to change a lot. It's trying to keep the squad together as much as possible and hopefully those big guns don't have those injuries.

    "It will be really interesting to see how it pans out. Any particular changes to the squad, I don't see it too necessary. Also with coronavirus, they probably won't be in a financial situation anyway to make too many changes."

    While Kohfeldt will return, Werder great and the club's all-time leading scorer Claudio Pizarro will not after retiring at the age of 41 following four spells in Bremen.

    Pizarro won six league titles across two separate spells at Bayern Munich, while he also spent a season playing for Chelsea in the Premier League.

    "It's been absolutely phenomenal to see what he's achieved in the Bundesliga," the 57-year-old Rufer said. "Incredible to have a player like him at the club, a legend of the game. It's sad. Claudio has been an incredible servant to the Bundesliga and Werder Bremen. To find another legend like that, it would be a coup for anyone."

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    Real Madrid have made no secret of their admiration for Mbappe, while Barcelona have tried to re-sign Neymar.

    As PSG prepare for the 2020-21 campaign, the Ligue 1 holders have made some transfer decisions.

     

    TOP STORY – PSG KEEPING MBAPPE, MAKE NEYMAR DECISION

    Paris Saint-Germain will not sell Kylian Mbappe ahead of the 2020-21 season but Neymar's future remains uncertain, according to L'Equipe.

    Mbappe has been tipped to make the move to Real Madrid in the future, however, Ligue 1 champions PSG have no intention of parting with the France international before next season.

    But Neymar – continually linked with a return to Barcelona after leaving in a world-record transfer in 2017 – could leave as PSG look to avoid losing the Brazilian star on a free transfer in 2022.

     

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    Chelsea are preparing their first offer for Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz. Journalist Nicolo Schira reports Chelsea will make a £62million (€70m) bid plus add-ons for Havertz amid interest from Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Barca. To fund the transfer, Chelsea will look to sell Inter target Emerson Palmieri, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Jorginho, who would like to reunite with Maurizio Sarri at Juventus.

    Luke Shaw could be sacrificed as United look to sign Leicester City's Ben Chilwell, claims the Mirror. United have reportedly leapfrogged Premier League rivals Chelsea and Manchester City in the race for full-back Chilwell.

    - Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter are interested in Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante, who has also been linked to Madrid.

    Willian has turned down a move to David Beckham's Inter Miami, reports the Telegraph. Willian's Chelsea contract expires at the end of the season and he has been linked to Liverpool, United, Arsenal and Tottenham.

    - Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren is wanted by Russian champions Zenit, according to the Evening Standard.

    - Calciomercato says Juventus are not the only club eyeing Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo. Jose Mourinho reportedly wants the Italy international at Tottenham, while Madrid and United are also believed to be interested.

    - The Express claims Chelsea are stepping up their pursuit of United goalkeeper and Sheffield United loanee Dean Henderson. Chelsea are ready to ask Manchester United for a price as Kepa Arrizabalaga struggles in London.

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    The Andalusian side last featured in Spain's top flight in 2005-06 and were in the third tier for seven of their campaigns since then. 

    A 1-0 defeat at home to Fuenlabrada on Saturday saw Cadiz miss a chance to secure their ascension from the Segunda Division. 

    However, the league leaders received a favour from mid-table Oviedo, who claimed a 4-2 win at La Romareda to ensure Cadiz cannot be caught by any team sitting outside the top two. 

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