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.

Niko Kovac has departed Bayern Munich after a 5-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt left the champions fourth in the Bundesliga table.

Pressure has been growing on Kovac all season despite the Croatian leading Bayern to the Bundesliga title and a DFB-Pokal triumph in his first year in charge.

Saturday's trip to Frankfurt saw Bayern beaten 5-1 by Kovac's old club, who he led to DFB-Pokal glory in 2017-18 before moving to Bavaria.

Bayern failed to keep a clean sheet in any of Kovac's last eight games in all competitions and they needed a late comeback to win at second-tier side Bochum in the DFB-Pokal in midweek.

Despite Kovac leading Bayern to three wins out of three in the Champions League, the Bundesliga champions have now opted for a change of coach.

Former Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter boss Jose Mourinho has been linked with Bayern after the Portuguese revealed he is learning German.

Mauricio Pochettino, whose future at Tottenham has appeared uncertain since their Champions League final loss to Liverpool, has also been linked with Bayern.

Assistant coach Hans Flick will take charge of the first team as they prepare for Wednesday's Champions League clash with Olympiacos and the Klassiker showdown with Borussia Dortmund next Saturday.

"The performance of our team in recent weeks, and the results, have shown us there was need for action," chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said in a statement.

"[President] Uli Hoeness, [sporting director] Hasan Salihamidzic and I had an open and serious conversation with Niko on this basis on Sunday, with the consensual result that Niko is no longer the Bayern coach.

"We all regret this development. I'd like to thank Niko Kovac on behalf of FC Bayern for his work, especially for winning the double last season."

Salihamidzic added: "I now expect a positive development from our players and the highest motivation to achieve our goals this season."

Kovac somewhat surprisingly said he felt his departure was for the best for Bayern.

"I think this is the right decision for the club at the moment," he said.

"The results, and also the way we played in the last game, made me come to that decision.

"My brother Robert and I thank Bayern for the past one and a half years. During this time, our team won the title, the DFB-Pokal and the DFL-Supercup. It was a good time.

"I wish the club and the team all the best."

Niko Kovac has been sacked by Bayern Munich after a 5-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt left the champions fourth in the Bundesliga table.

Pressure has been growing on Kovac all season despite the Croatian leading Bayern to the Bundesliga title and a DFB-Pokal triumph in his first year in charge.

Saturday's trip to Frankfurt saw Bayern beaten 5-1 by Kovac's old club, who he led to DFB-Pokal glory in 2017-18 before moving to Bavaria.

Bayern failed to keep a clean sheet in any of Kovac's last eight games in all competitions and they needed a late comeback to win at second-tier side Bochum in the DFB-Pokal in midweek.

Despite Kovac leading Bayern to three wins out of three in the Champions League, the Bundesliga champions have now opted for a change of coach.

Former Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter boss Jose Mourinho has been linked with Bayern after the Portuguese revealed he is learning German.

Mauricio Pochettino, whose future at Tottenham has appeared uncertain since their Champions League final loss to Liverpool, has also been linked with Bayern.

Assistant coach Hans Flick will take charge of the first team as they prepare for Wednesday's Champions League clash with Olympiacos and the Klassiker showdown with Borussia Dortmund next Saturday.

"The performance of our team in recent weeks, and the results, have shown us there was need for action," chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said in a statement.

"[President] Uli Hoeness, [sporting director] Hasan Salihamidzic and I had an open and serious conversation with Niko on this basis on Sunday, with the consensual result that Niko is no longer the Bayern coach.

"We all regret this development. I'd like to thank Niko Kovac on behalf of FC Bayern for his work, especially for winning the double last season."

Salihamidzic added: "I now expect a positive development from our players and the highest motivation to achieve our goals this season."

Kovac somewhat surprisingly said he felt his departure was for the best for Bayern.

"I think this is the right decision for the club at the moment," he said.

"The results, and also the way we played in the last game, made me come to that decision.

"My brother Robert and I thank Bayern for the past one and a half years. During this time, our team won the title, the DFB-Pokal and the DFL-Supercup. It was a good time.

"I wish the club and the team all the best."

DFB-Pokal holders Bayern Munich will host Hoffenheim in the last 16 of this season's competition, while two fourth-tier sides were handed home advantage.

Bayern were made to sweat in their second-round tie, needing two goals in the last seven minutes to scrape past second-tier strugglers Bochum.

Niko Kovac's side - who have won the tournament 19 times - beat RB Leipzig in last season's final and will be favourites against Hoffenheim in one of four all-Bundesliga ties.

Other clashes between sides in Germany's top tier see Eintracht Frankfurt host Leipzig, Schalke take on Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen welcome Borussia Dortmund.

Interest in the fortunes of Saarbrucken and Verl will be high, with both sides playing in the regionalised fourth tier of German football.

Verl top the Regionalliga West table and will host Bundesliga opposition in Union Berlin, while Saarbrucken are also flying high in the league, sitting first in the Regionalliga South West standings.

Saarbrucken, who scored a stoppage-time winner to beat top-flight opponents Cologne 3-2 in the second round, will host 2. Bundesliga outfit Karlsruher.

Kaiserslautern, who have plummeted to the third tier in recent years, are in the relegation zone but have a chance to raise spirits when they welcome Fortuna Dusseldorf of the Bundesliga.

The other tie in the last 16 sees Bayer Leverkusen take on 2. Bundesliga high-flyers Stuttgart.

All third-round ties will be played on February 4 and 5.

DFB-Pokal last 16 draw

Eintracht Frankfurt v RB Leipzig
Bayer Leverkusen v Stuttgart
Bayern Munich v Hoffenheim
Schalke v Hertha Berlin
Saarbrucken v Karlsruher
Werder Bremen v Borussia Dortmund
Kaiserslautern v Fortuna Dusseldorf
Verl v Union Berlin

Niko Kovac says he will continue to be honest despite angering Bayern Munich supporters by suggesting former club Eintracht Frankfurt have the best fans in Germany.

Bayern are second in the Bundesliga and needed late goals from Serge Gnabry and Thomas Miller to overcome second-tier Bochum 2-1 in the DFB-Pokal on Tuesday, saving under-fire boss Kovac from further scrutiny.

But Kovac risked backlash speaking after the game as he talked up supporters of Eintracht, Bayern's next league opponents.

Given the opportunity to redress his comments on Thursday, the 48-year-old chose instead to defend his right to have an opinion on such matters.

"I watched three of their [Europa League] qualifying games at the beginning of the season - there was some great choreography and I thought it was great," said Kovac, who won the DFB-Pokal with Frankfurt in 2017-18.

"We also have great fans. I felt that last season, especially towards the end against Frankfurt and also in the cup when my name was chanted. 

"I know how important the fans are for us. I did not say we have bad fans - they are also great. But in the big picture, Frankfurt have a great and unique atmosphere unlike anywhere else in the Bundesliga.

"I will not change myself or my character. If honesty is no longer desirable in this day and age, we can pack it in. I will not change."

Kovac questioned the attitude of his players following their comeback win at Bochum and is now keen to see Bayern start games in more impressive fashion.

"[Bochum] had a huge chance after 40 seconds. I expect my side to be ready from the first minute," he said. "We know we have the quality, but we have to work the same as others."

Bayern have won three in a row in all competitions but are seven games without a clean sheet and have struggled to dominate matches as in the past, leading to criticism from chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Not since 2008-09 have they conceded more goals in their opening nine Bundesliga matches, and Kovac is working on a solution.

"Football is a sport that is results-oriented, but the best combination is to win and play well," he said. "We are not able to do that right now. We have to gain confidence through small victories.

"If you lose the ball five times, it will be difficult to offer yourself a sixth time and then your knees will start to shake, so you have to try to get into a rhythm right from the beginning."

Manuel Neuer was left wondering whether Bayern Munich really wanted to advance in the DFB-Pokal following Tuesday's narrow victory at second-tier Bochum.

Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller scored in the final 10 minutes to seal a come-from-behind 2-1 win that spared the Bundesliga champions from embarrassment.

Bayern fell behind when Alphonso Davies turned a cross into his own net and the visitors needed almost 50 minutes to restore parity.

A poor first half forced coach Niko Kovac to call Robert Lewandowski from the bench and led captain Neuer to question the squad's desire.

"The way we played in the first half was really sad and disappointing," Neuer said.

"I don't know the reason, whether we were not there in our heads or we just didn't want to qualify. That's what it looked like anyway.

"It's important that everyone starts with themselves. We don't need to talk about individual players or the system or the coach.

"It's important for us as professionals to be able to look at ourselves in the mirror."

The victory was Bayern's third on the bounce in all competitions but continued a series of below-par showings against modest opposition.

Since losing at home to Hoffenheim, Kovac's men have drawn with Augsburg and scraped past Olympiacos, Union Berlin and Bochum.

Leon Goretzka diagnosed the problem as a lack of enjoyment.

"I think we need to get the fun back," he said after the second-round win over his former club.

"I talked about this in the dressing room. It was a night game and we should just go out and have fun. But that was missing.

"For sure it was a weak performance. I can't really remember any chances. It was a bad game from us."

Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac questioned his side's attitude after they needed a stroke of luck to edge past second-tier strugglers Bochum 2-1 in the DFB-Pokal on Tuesday.

Bochum have not won at home since May and only goal difference is keeping them from the foot of the 2. Bundesliga table.

That meant 19-time champions Bayern were huge favourites in the second-round clash, but Alphonso Davies' first-half own goal had them on the brink of elimination.

Kovac's men needed an 83rd-minute equaliser from Serge Gnabry to finally take control of the match and, after Armel Bella-Kotchap was sent off, Thomas Muller scored a late winner.

"It was all wrong for 60, 70 minutes," an unhappy Kovac said.

"The fact that we played so many bad passes, in my opinion, has something to do with the attitude ... it has nothing to do with tactics. It has to do with the attitude.

"There were too many players who played bad passes."

The Bayern boss made three changes to the side that beat Union Berlin 2-1 in the Bundesliga on Saturday, placing Robert Lewandowski, Philippe Coutinho and Muller on the bench.

But he had to call on all three in a desperate bid to avoid embarrassment in the second half, with Lewandowski coming on at the start of the second half for the DFB-Pokal holders.

Kovac felt it was his other two substitutes that changed the match, though.

"After Philippe Coutinho and Thomas Muller came on, things improved," he said.

"And in the end we got that little bit of luck against Bochum, who really played so well."

Muller told Sky: "It's a real joy to score the winning goal in a knockout game. It was a big relief. But with the big picture we cannot be happy. It doesn't help to speak and speak and speak."

Bayern, who sit second in the Bundesliga, visit Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

Thomas Muller and Serge Gnabry spared Bayern Munich's blushes by scoring late goals to scrape a 2-1 DFB-Pokal second-round win at Bochum, who finished Tuesday's game with 10 men.

Alphonso Davies' first-half own goal gave Bochum a surprise lead and the second-tier strugglers looked on the brink of a famous upset with less than 10 minutes remaining.

But Gnabry levelled proceedings for the 19-time champions in the 83rd minute, a smart finish at the back post setting up a grandstand finale at Vonovia Ruhrstadion.

One-way traffic followed and after Armel Bella-Kotchap was given a red card for bringing down Muller, the Bayern star settled the contest by turning in Kingsley Coman's brilliant first-time cross for a dramatic 89th-minute winner.

Borussia Dortmund star Mario Gotze has suffered a forearm fracture but could still feature in the DFB-Pokal second-round game against Borussia Monchengladbach.

Dortmund revealed the diagnosis following the attacking midfielder's withdrawal in the second half of the Bundesliga draw with bitter rivals Schalke on Saturday.

Gotze was sent for scans, which confirmed the fracture and an additional wrist injury.

Despite the dual issues, the 27-year-old remains in contention for Wednesday's cup game at Signal Iduna Park.

"The club's medical staff have confirmed that Mario Gotze suffered a hairline fracture in his forearm and a ligament strain in his wrist during Saturday's derby," read a Dortmund statement.

"Gotze may nonetheless be able to make an appearance in the DFB-Pokal match against Borussia Monchengladbach tomorrow evening."

Dortmund reached the competition's second round with a 2-0 win over Uerdingen in August but have struggled for form in recent weeks.

The Schalke stalemate followed a Champions League loss to Inter and left Lucien Favre's men with two wins from their past eight matches in all competitions.

Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac has lamented the lack of time coaches are given to implement their ideas at a football club.

Despite leading Bayern to Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal success last season, Kovac oversaw a disappointing round-of-16 exit in the Champions League and his position has come under scrutiny in the early stages of the 2019-20 campaign.

The Bavarian giants have won just five of their nine league games and sit a point behind Borussia Monchengladbach at the Bundesliga summit, leading to speculation that Jose Mourinho has been lined up as a replacement for Kovac.

Speaking ahead of his side's DFB-Pokal second-round tie with Bochum on Tuesday, Kovac expressed his frustration at the lack of continuity in coaching and pointed to Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool as a positive example of what can happen if a coach is given time.

"You need time," he told a media conference. "You have to get to know your colleagues and the procedures, but that does not seem to apply to coaches. It's not about me, but about this issue in general.

"Klopp is now at Liverpool for four years, so we talk about continuity. Apparently, it no longer exists in football."

Kovac is likely to make changes for the visit to Bochum but would not be drawn on whether Philippe Coutinho would be rested.

Coutinho has impressed following his loan move from Barcelona, but Kovac is not happy with the attacking midfielder playing a combined 150 minutes in Brazil's friendlies against Senegal and Nigeria earlier this month.

"I am very satisfied with him," he said. "He always puts himself in the service of the team. Maybe he should not play so much every time he's with the national team. 

"The burden of flying and playing is quite high so we have to try to talk to the national coach."

Kovac confirmed that Javi Martinez is the only injury absentee for the clash at the Ruhrstadion, with Leon Goretzka expected to make his first start since the DFL-Supercup defeat to Borussia Dortmund on August 3.

Borussia Dortmund have been boosted by Paco Alcacer's return to training following his recovery from a double injury.

The Spain striker, who has scored five goals in six Bundesliga appearances for Lucien Favre's men this season, has been sidelined for almost a month with Achilles tendon and calf muscle problems.

Alcacer's most recent appearance came in Dortmund's 2-2 draw at home to Werder Bremen, but he participated in Sunday's training session, although the club would not confirm a date for his return to action.

That could potentially come against Borussia Monchengladbach in the DFB-Pokal on Wednesday or, should that game come too soon, when Favre's side face Wolfsburg at home in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

Alcacer's involvement would provide some much-needed firepower to a team that have scored just once in their past three outings.

Borussia Dortmund have been drawn against Borussia Monchengladbach in the second round of the DFB-Pokal, while holders Bayern Munich will travel to second-tier side Bochum.

Dortmund saw off lower-league opposition Uerdingen in the first round but have a far tougher test to come against Gladbach in one of two all-Bundesliga ties.

Bayern continue the defence of their crown with a trip to Bochum, who they beat en route to winning the competition in 2015-16.

Elsewhere, last season's beaten finalists RB Leipzig will take on top-flight rivals Wolfsburg for a place in round three.

The two remaining semi-professional sides in the competition, FC Saarbrucken and Verl, were paired with Koln and Holstein Kiel respectively in Sunday's draw.

The games will be played on October 29 and 30.

 

Draw in full:

Kaiserslautern v Nurnberg
Verl v Holstein Kiel
MSV Duisburg v TSG Hoffenheim
Saarbrucken v Koln
Darmstadt 98 v Karlsruher SC
Bayer Leverkusen v Paderborn
Freiburg v Union Berlin
Fortuna Dusseldorf v Erzgebirge Aue
Bochum v Bayern Munich
Arminia Bielefeld v Schalke 04
Borussia Dortmund v Borussia Mönchengladbach
Hertha Berlin v Dynamo Dresden
Wolfsburg v RB Leipzig
Werder Bremen v Heidenheim
Hamburger SV v Stuttgart
St. Pauli v Eintracht Frankfurt

Niko Kovac revealed Ivan Perisic is poised to join Bayern Munich after undergoing a medical with the Bundesliga champions.

Perisic has been linked with a move away from Serie A side Inter following Antonio Conte's arrival and the Croatia international had a medical in Munich on Monday.

The former Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg winger is expected to join Bayern on an initial season-long loan deal, which reportedly includes the option to make the move permanent.

Asked about Perisic, Bayern head coach Kovac told reporters following Monday's 3-1 win over Energie Cottbus in the DFB-Pokal: "He [Ivan Perisic] was at the medical check today. And if all this goes well and the last papers are sent back and forth [with Inter], then he will become one of our players."

Kovac has been on the lookout for reinforcements in the wide areas following the departures of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben at the end of 2018-19.

Bayern were hoping to sign Germany international Leroy Sane before the Manchester City star suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

"Regardless of our transfers, there are other clubs that buy players. And I don't like the way these [players] are handled to some extent when you put them in the second or third category," Kovac said.

"We should respect each of them. That's what we stand for and that's what I stand for. And that's what I expect from everyone else. Because it's always easy to criticise someone.

"First you don't get this player, then you don't get the other, and then you have an X, Y or Z solution. I don't think that's nice. That's my personal opinion. Maybe some people share this opinion with me."

Kovac was speaking after defending champions Bayern beat fourth-tier side Energie thanks to goals from Robert Lewandowski, Kingsley Coman and Leon Goretzka.

"My team did a good job," Kovac said. "We could have retained possession a bit more in the second half but taken altogether I'm satisfied. Energie gave it everything, it was a great spectacle.

"We dominated possession. strangled our opponents but had to watch out for counters again and again. The final pass in the last third must be more precise. We could have done better."

Robert Lewandowski felt Bayern Munich were not at their best in the 3-1 DFB-Pokal win over fourth-tier Energie Cottbus.

Lewandowski opened his account for the season with a close-range finish at Stadion der Freundschaft, where Kingsley Coman and Leon Goretzka were also on target.

Goretzka fouled Berkan Taz to give away a stoppage-time penalty that the same player converted – a moment in keeping with some other moments of lacklustre play from Niko Kovac's men

"I think we showed what we want to do. I'm glad we won," Lewandowski said.

"Maybe it was not an amazing game for our side, but we had to do our job."

Captain Neuer also feels Bayern, who lost 2-0 to rivals Borussia Dortmund in the DFL-Supercup, have room to improve before Friday's Bundesliga opener against Hertha Berlin.

"We should have passed the ball a little bit quicker in the first half but, all-in-all, we should be satisfied," he said.

"I just spoke to their goalkeeper [Lennart Moser], he did a really good job and that's why we did not score more goals.

"There are still some things to improve and it's never easy to know where you're standing before the league kicks off. I'm quite positive. We will see what happens on Friday."

Lewandowski, who finished last term as the Bundesliga's top scorer for the fourth time in the past six seasons, added: "It's been a long time between the last game in the Bundesliga and now and I think it will be a great night in Munich."

Kingsley Coman illuminated a routine 3-1 win for Bayern Munich at Energie Cottbus in the DFB-Pokal.

Coman had a hand in Robert Lewandowski's first-half opener before his superb 65th-minute strike ensured there would be no way back for Bayern's fourth-tier opponents.

Niko Kovac handed a full debut to another France international, defender Benjamin Pavard, in a strong line-up, who rounded things off when substitute Leon Goretzka slotted home five minutes from time, shortly before late a Energie consolation via a penalty.

But the most eye-catching performance came from Coman on the wing, with Bayern expected to bolster their wide attacking options by completing the signing of Ivan Perisic from Inter this week.

The Bundesliga champions were forced to be patient against disciplined opponents roared on by a buoyant Stadion der Freundschaft, before going ahead in the 32nd minute.

Lennart Moser saved impressively when Coman headed Joshua Kimmich's cross goalwards but Lewandowski was on hand to convert the rebound.

A poor Kimmich clearance gave Felix Brugmann a half-chance he hacked over four minutes from the interval.

Coman and Lewandowski combined again early in the second period – the Poland striker flicking wide with the outside of his right boot.

Energie were struggling to contain Coman, who had a 48th-minute penalty appeal waved away before netting in style after the hour.

A sweeping move saw Goretzka drive forward to find Coman on the left flank, from where he darted inside to send a shot swerving into the far corner from 25 yards.

Goretzka's perfectly timed run to finish a cutback from Serge Gnabry made Bayern safe – just as well given the former Schalke midfielder's clumsy foul gave Berkan Taz a moment to savour in stoppage time.

 

What does it mean? Bayern turn attentions towards number eight

Potential humiliation was rarely flirted with as Bayern kept Energie at arm's length throughout the contest. Save for one horrible tackle on Corentin Tolisso from Tobias Eisenhuth, and that late penalty, there were no real worries ahead of the new Bundesliga season, where a resurgent Borussia Dortmund will be the main obstacle to an eighth successive title.

Coman makes his case

Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery riding off into the sunset at the end of last season, along with the messy and fruitless courting of Leroy Sane, means Bayern are lighter than they would like to be in what has traditionally been a position of strength for the club. Coman's industrious and inventive showing - crowned by a fabulous goal - served notice of a player ready to grasp his chance and become a star performer this season. Now, if he can just stay fit.

Kovac needs commanding start to Bundesliga season

Bayern were comfortable enough winners in the end, but, having drawn a blank in their DFL-Supercup loss to Dortmund, they sometimes lacked penetration against a team who were relegated last season to the fourth tier. Kovac must shift them into higher gears during the opening weeks of the league campaign to feel a little more secure in his post.

What's next?

Bayern host Hertha Berlin to begin their Bundesliga campaign on Friday, while Energie travel to Lokomotive Leipzig in the Regionalliga a day later.

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