Heynckes looking for the perfect Bayern farewell
JUPP Heynckes would like to bow out at Bayern Munich with another league and cup double while his replacement Niko Kovac also wants to leave Eintracht Frankfurt on a high in tomorrow’s German Cup final.
Any talk of split loyalties for Kovac has been quashed by both sides, with a school of thought saying the Croatian is even more desperate to win, because if Bayern clinch the double he will have extra pressure to at least repeat the feat next season.
Frankfurt were annoyed with Bayern for approaching Kovac just as they were entering the end-spurt of the season. Results in the Bundesliga fell away, meaning they finished eighth and must now win the Cup to get into the Europa League.
If Frankfurt lose, VfB Stuttgart will head to Europe having ended a rollercoaster season in seventh.
Frankfurt missed out on seventh after a 1-0 loss to Schalke on Saturday in the final Bundesliga game of the season.
“We have to tick off the game and forget it,” Kovac said. “I hope we will have more look on Saturday in the final.”
While Kovac will be centre stage for some at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, the day will belong to retiring Bayern coach Heynckes.
The 73-year-old thought he had retired before, after leading Bayern to a treble in 2013, but came back as an emergency stop-gap in September following the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti.
Champions League glory has escaped him this time but finishing off with a Cup triumph having strolled to the Bundesliga title would still be a fitting end for one of the gentlemen of the game.
Their Bundesliga title party last Saturday was slightly soured by a 4-1 home defeat by Stuttgart but Heynckes was unruffled.
“In Berlin you will see a different Bayern,” he said.
His players will do everything to give him a proper send-off.
“I think if we win the Cup final, the coach will be happy. Jupp is a great, where the word legend is appropriate,” said defender Mats Hummels, who is a slight doubt with a foot injury.
Thomas Mueller also skipped training yesterday because of a stomach virus.
A bigger doubt is the presence of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, out since September with a broken foot but now back in full training.
He is desperate to prove his fitness to keep his Germany World Cup place but media reports suggest Sven Ulreich will remain in goal against Frankfurt, with Neuer hoping two World Cup warm-up games will be enough to convince Joachim Loew.