Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich have officially confirmed last week that Niko Kovac will take over from Jupp Heynckes at the end of the season.
The experienced Bayern Munich mastermind plans to retire at the end of the current campaign – all over again – after returning to help out his beloved club as an interim solution following Carlo Ancelotti’s sacking.
Bayern Munich sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic confirmed on Friday that current Eintracht Frankfurt boss Niko Kovac had signed a three-year contract with the Bavarian behemoths after they triggered a reported €2.2 million release clause.
As a club that would only sign a German-speaking tactician, Bayern Munich did not have a huge pool of coaches to choose from and many believe that somewhat stubborn insistence would come to haunt them.
But will that really be the case?
Third Time’s a Charm
The Niko Kovac announcement was met with widespread skepticism, knowing that the Croatian tactician was Bayern Munich’s third choice for the job.
The 46-year-old’s name popped up only after Jupp Heynckess and PSG-bound Thomas Tuchel rejected the advances coming from Bayern Munich operatives Uli Hoeness and Hasan Salihamidzic. With Jupp Heyckess reluctant to extend his current deal and Tuchel already in agreement with an unnamed side, Hoeness and Salihamidzic were forced to take a broader view on possible replacements.
RB Leipzig boss Ralph Hasenhuettl and Hoffenheim manager Julian Nagelsmann were also in the view – but with their respective clubs determined to hold on to the two highly-rated tacticians – it was Niko Kovac who emerged as an idea once again.
The Croat was in consideration for the position back in 2013 when Bayern Munich hierarchy announced the club would only consider a German-speaking manager. As a former player of the Bavarian side and a close friend to fellow Balkan man Hasan Salihamidzic, Kovac is backed to succeed and prove the critics wrong.
Challenging Times Ahead
With the club on the brink of a treble, Niko Kovac will have a tough task on his hands regardless of the outcome of the current campaign.
Still a novice – albeit a highly exciting one – the Croat is not a superstar coach Bayern Munich supporters got used to seeing in the dugout over the past years. Kovac is, however, someone they are quite familiar with.
A Hertha Berlin legend spent two years at Bayern Munich – from 2001 to 2003 – before returning to Hertha after failing to grab his place under the spotlight due to the emerging presence of the likes of Fink, Hargreaves, Ballack and Ze Roberto.
He will be given a new chance to shine in Munich, albeit in a different role, the one he seems so comfortable in. With a mindset oriented towards playing a high-intensity football, Niko Kovac transformed Eintracht Frankfurt into a highly organized unit.
Having successfully saved them from relegation, Kovac made his team into European contenders and seems to be well-equipped to take it to the next level.
He might look like an odd choice for a Bayern Munich boss but a scratch under Niko Kovac’s surface and the fact Bavarians only turned towards him after getting rejected by their first two choices will reveal a more insightful view into what Croat can bring to Bayern.
Not afraid to experiment with his tactics and style, Kovac used no less than seven different formations in Bundesliga this season. With a team that is a scintillating mixture of youth and experience – much like Bayern’s – Niko Kovac did wonders to lead them to seventh place in the standings this term.
With Robben and Ribery at the sunset of their careers and a new generation of footballers knocking on the first team’s doors, Niko Kovac will be tasked to balance the lines and usher Germany’s finest into the new era.
Should Bayern Munich manage to make use of the 23/10 betting odds to lift the European trophy this year, Kovac’s task of maintaining a Bundesliga-backed European force would be as much challenging – and exciting.
Kovac’s personality has survived the test at Eintracht and that is something Bayern Munich fans should not be worried about. The Croat has an established reputation of a locker room leader and won’t be bullied by the star-studded presence – which was also the problem Zinedine Zidane successfully overcome in his early days at Real Madrid.
Passion and power, undeterred character and decisive certainly are the traits he polished during his testing times at Eintracht.
Perhaps it’s now time to simply shine through?
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