Close title race exposing tensions at Bayern Munich
BERLIN (AP) — Bayern Munich is back on top of the Bundesliga after beating main rival Borussia Dortmund but the closest title race in years is exposing uncharacteristic tensions at the Bavarian powerhouse.
Bayern chief executive Oliver Kahn and former player Lothar Matthäus delivered a heated exchange Saturday before the team’s win over Dortmund with Kahn angrily defending the club’s treatment of Julian Nagelsmann, who was fired as coach the week before.
Kahn acknowledged it had been a “catastrophe” that Nagelsmann learned of his dismissal from the media and not from the club directly but denied Bayern club was at fault, saying it had tried several times to reach him. Nagelsmann was on vacation at the time during the international break.
The coach’s management team later contradicted Kahn’s account, telling Sky TV that it heard nothing from the club before telephoning Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić for an explanation after seeing the media reports of Nagelsmann's firing.
Kahn rounded on Matthäus – who now works as a pundit – for suggesting Bayern’s style of management had changed for the worse since former club bosses Karl-Heinz Rummenigge und Uli Hoeneß departed. Kahn said Matthäus should be “very, very careful” about what he said.
During the halftime break, Matthäus said Kahn was “lying” about his version of events. “The timing doesn’t add up,” Matthäus said.
It’s still unclear if Bayern only decided to fire Nagelsmann after Thomas Tuchel had agreed to take over. Nagelsmann’s firing was a surprise because Kahn and Salihamidžić had both publicly backed the coach before.
Tuchel, who said he thought Bayern was enquiring about his summer availability, said he was “astounded that it was about (taking over) straight away.”
Players Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka expressed their doubts following the firing of Nagelsmann, with the latter saying it was a “shock for everyone.”
On Sunday, former long-time Bayern assistant coach Hermann Gerland said he left the club at the end of last season because of differences with Salihamidžić.
“It happens that two people can’t get along,” the now 68-year-old Gerland told broadcaster Sport1.
Also Sunday, Hoeneß told Kicker magazine that Nagelsmann should not have been on vacation in the first place after the team’s 2-1 loss at Leverkusen. Players like Thomas Müller, who scored two goals in Bayern’s 4-2 win over Dortmund, were still available for training in Munich.
Hoeneß, who was Bayern president and still a regular at games, said he thinks Nagelsmann would still be coach if Tuchel hadn’t agreed to take over.
Bayern leads the Bundesliga by two points with eight rounds remaining. It hosts Freiburg in the quarterfinals of the German Cup on Tuesday, then Freiburg again in the league on Saturday, before visiting Manchester City for the flrst leg of their Champions League quarterfinal on April 11.
___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports