Flick ready to walk away as one of Bayern Munich's most successful coaches

Under the German, club secured the Bundesliga and German Cup before their sixth triumph in Europe's premier tournament


AFP April 18, 2021

BERLIN:

Hansi Flick wants to walk away from Bayern Munich after an 18-month odyssey saw him go from interim boss to Champions League and treble-winning head coach, yet looks likely to end amidst bitter acrimony.

Flick's bombshell announcement on Saturday that he wants to terminate his contract comes just eight months after Bayern beat Paris Saint-Germain in last season's Champions League final.

"It was important for me to tell the team, because we have worked together successfully for almost two years now," a tense-looking Flick said after a 3-2 win at Wolfsburg.

His drawn demeanour was a far cry from the intense celebrations in the Bayern camp after Flick masterminded a jaw-dropping 8-2 thrashing of Lionel Messi's Barcelona in last season's Champions League quarter-finals.

Under Flick, Bayern had already secured the Bundesliga and German Cup before their sixth triumph in Europe's premier tournament.

After winning the Champions League, Bayern swept up all before them, adding the German Super Cup and UEFA Super Cup, before lifting the Club World Cup title in Doha last February.

Flick's rise was all the more stunning as he was only initially appointed caretaker coach when Niko Kovac was sacked in November 2019.

It was the 56-year-old's first job as a Bundesliga head coach.

"We can all be happy that we chose Hansi Flick and put our trust in him," said club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge after Bayern won the Champions League final in Lisbon.

"He's returned that trust a hundredfold."

Yet things have unravelled behind the scenes in the weeks since Bayern were crowned club world champions as tensions simmered between Flick and sports director Hasan Salihamidzic.

Disagreements about player recruitment and squad planning took a toll.

Tensions boiled over after Salihamidzic confirmed Jerome Boateng will not be kept on next season.

Flick made it clear he wanted to keep the 32-year-old centre-back.

A barrage of questions about his dealings with Salihamidzic resulted in a four-minute monologue last Friday from an exhausted-looking Flick, who first hinted he was considering leaving.

Flick's patience was so stretched that he insisted on replying "Next question" whenever asked about Salihamidzic.

Sky pundit Lothar Matthaeus has repeatedly predicted Flick would leave at the end of the season because his working relationship with Salihamidzic is no longer "fixable".

Bayern fans will be furious that Flick wants to leave, even after the holders exited the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday at the hands of Paris Saint Germain.

In a poll by Munich-based paper TZ, 89 percent want the treble-winning coach to stay on.

Flick insists his future next season is unclear, but Saturday's announcement makes him the favourite to replace Joachim Loew as Germany head coach after the Euro 2020 finals.

Flick's rise to become one of the most successful coaches in Bayern's history reads like a fairytale, but he had already won football's biggest prize.

During his 18 months in charge, Flick has put into practice what he learnt in eight years as assistant coach to Loew until walking away after the national team won the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

At Bayern, Flick finally stepped out of Loew's shadow, stamping his mark and quickly correcting things where Kovac had stumbled.

His masterstroke was returning Thomas Mueller to the starting line-up.

The 31-year-old responded with a Bundesliga record 21 assists last season and provided the sort of service which saw Robert Lewandowski score a total of 55 goals as Bayern won the treble.

"Our game hasn't been so well organised since Pep Guardiola (coached Bayern from 2013-16)," said Mueller, who has played under nine coaches during his Bayern career.

Flick has managed the delicate feat of keeping Bayern's stars happy without relying on too much rotation.

Flick had spells coaching lower-league clubs after injuries forced the former Bayern and Cologne midfielder to retire from playing at 28.

His break was landing the plum job as Loew's assistant with the Germany team after the 2006 World Cup.

After helping mastermind Germany's 2014 World Cup triumph, Flick then became sports director of the German FA until 2017.

He joined Bayern as Kovac's assistant in July 2019 and the rest is history after landing the treble for only the second time in the club's proud history after Jupp Heynckes achieved the feat in 2013.

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