Bayern Munich sacks coach van Gaal
Bayern Munich has fired coach Louis van Gaal with immediate effect, cutting short a difficult relationship that was due to end soon anyway.
Van Gaal was due to leave the club at the end of the season, one year early, but the Bayern board announced on Sunday it had fired the 59-year-old Dutchman with five games remaining.
The decision came after Bayern dropped to fourth place following Saturday's 1-1 draw in Nuremberg.
''By dropping back to fourth place and the danger of missing out on the minimum goal, the qualification for the Champions League, the decision was made in the interest of Bayern,'' the club said in a statement.
Bayern also fired three of Van Gaal's assistants. Another assistant, Andries Jonker, will coach the team until the end of the season.
''We wanted someone with inside knowledge,'' board chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. ''He (Jonker) held a remarkable speech before the players.''
Rummenigge said there was ''no alternative'' to firing van Gaal.
Uli Hoeness, Bayern's president who had been at odds with Van Gaal for months, said it was a ''fairy tale'' that the players were behind Van Gaal.
''Success is one thing. But there has been no fun in this club for a long time,'' Hoeness said.
''The board had to react, on Saturday the patience was over,'' said Hoeness, who had been highly critical of Van Gaal's authoritarian style.
Hoeness said the decision to fire Van Gaal was reached during the drive back from Nuremberg, when the board members shared a car.
''We had enough time to discuss and by the time we reached Munich, our decision was made,'' Hoeness told reporters.
Hoeness said the problems started when Van Gaal decided to drop veteran goalkeeper Joerg Butt and replace him with untested Thomas Kraft during the midseason break.
''We created problems that were totally unnecessary and that unsettled the club,'' Hoeness said.
The board warned him about changing the goalkeeper but Van Gaal would not listen to their advice, Hoeness said.
Kraft's mistake, not the first since his promotion, led to Nuremberg's equalizer.
''Yesterday was the end in a chain of events and the board had to react, we could not just sit and watch,'' Hoeness said.
Hoeness said he now expected an ''explosion'' in Bayern's performance.
Third place is Bayern's minimum goal because it brings a place in qualifying for the Champions League. The club has virtually no chance of defending its Bundesliga title and is out of other competitions.
Bayern's next match is against Bayer Leverkusen, whose coach Jupp Heynckes will take over at Bayern next season. Leverkusen is second, six points ahead of Bayern, and still has title chances.
With a win in Munich, Heynckes' current club could help to deny his future team a place in the Champions League. Next season's Champions League final is in Munich and Bayern is keen to qualify for the competition.
Bayern swept the domestic double and reached the Champions League final in van Gaal's first season. But with Bayern out of the German Cup and the Champions League and faltering in the Bundesliga, the club's board decided one month ago to terminate his contract one year early at the end of the season.
Bayern won its next three games after announcing van Gaal's departure but Saturday's draw, after an early 1-0 lead, left the club one point behind Hannover, which beat Mainz 2-0.
Van Gaal's predecessor, Juergen Klinsmann, also was fired with five games remaining in 2009. He was replaced by Heynckes, who came out of semi-retirement to secure a place in the Champions League.
Heynckes was then hired by Leverkusen, which was impressed by his short stint at Bayern.