Bundesliga Zeitung, by Andy Wales.
Away from the news surrounding the formation of a European Super League, it’s been quite the week in the Bundesliga. As has been the case elsewhere during the past few days, most of the attention has been on matters off the pitch.
It began the preceding Sunday with the sacking of Markus Gisdol from Kӧln. His dismissal after defeat to fellow strugglers was not the biggest surprise. After all, rumours had been circulating for quite some time on his future, but his replacement did raise an eyebrow.
Out of retirement came former Fortuna Düsseldorf boss Friedhelm Funkel. With only a handful of games remaining, the timing was curious from Kӧln and the task of surviving is a hefty one. Despite a 3-0 loss to Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday, there were reasons for optimism from the performance itself. However, an interview Funkel gave to German broadcaster Sky has put his position under question.
Respected commentator Derek Rae provided the following translation of the Funkel interview:
Not great from Köln coach Friedhelm Funkel. Just watched & this is what he said. “Leverkusen have this tremendous pace. Due to their..yes..there are one or two expressions you’re not allowed to use any more..due to their players who are just so fast.” What was he trying to say? https://t.co/qN9OWVzUzW
— Derek Rae (@RaeComm) April 17, 2021
To say it has caused a storm is an understatement. Another German broadcaster, WDR, labelled it a “shitstorm” and they’re not wrong. Funkel’s attempts to explain his use of words have not helped and this is a story that is unlikely to go away anytime soon.
Sandwiched between Funkel dominating headlines were a couple of major managerial announcements.
Adi Hütter, who is on the verge of leading Eintracht Frankfurt into the Champions League, was announced as the new Borussia Mӧnchengladbach coach. He will take charge of the Foals in the summer and, by coincidence, Gladbach and Frankfurt faced each other on Saturday.
The battle of two departing coaches was quite a fascinating subtext to the game. Gladbach had experienced a terrible run of form after they revealed Marco Rose would be going to Dortmund this summer.
Ironically, Frankfurt’s comprehensive defeat to Gladbach leaves the door open for Dortmund. Should Frankfurt suffer a drop in form similar to Gladbach, Rose could be the beneficiary of more than just the three points collected on Saturday afternoon.
For Frankfurt, the losses went beyond the game and Hütter. It’s been confirmed that sporting director Fredi Bobic will be leaving the Eagles for Hertha Berlin. He is seen as a major part of the success and progression they’ve made over recent years.
Even if Frankfurt do qualify for the Champions League, things could be difficult next year. As well as losing a top coach and influential sporting director, they don’t have a squad capable of competing on two fronts. They are fun to watch and have a vociferous support when fans are allowed back. However, their overachievement this season will be difficult to maintain and they could be cruelly exposed on the European stage.
Speaking of the Champions League, both Dortmund and Bayern Munich exited at the quarter-final stage this past week. For defending champions Bayern, elimination at the hands of PSG prompted explosive news.
Reports of problems between Bayern coach Hansi Flick and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic. It’s a relationship that is rumoured to have become fractious just a few months after Flick succeeded Niko Kovac.
With Joachim Lӧw revealing that he will step down as national team manager after this summer’s Euros, speculation intensified that Flick would be his successor. It seemed implausible that Bayern would not put more stock into the coach who brought them a treble last season and then added the World Club Championship.
However, as talk of a rift between Salihamidzic and Flick and his dressing room gathered pace, the disgruntled coach made his move. Flick told the media at the weekend that he’d told the club and players that he intends to step down at the end of the season.
Whether it was on the cards or not, it is still monumental news. The draw of leading his nation after winning all there is to win in club football is an obvious one for Flick. Although there has been no indication from the DFB that this will happen, it is expected.
Similarly, the next incumbent at Bayern is thought to be Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann. He is a logical choice for Bayern and seems ready to take that next step. I mused recently in this column about whether or not Leipzig will be prepared to match the ambition of Nagelsmann this summer.
Perhaps we are about to discover just where Leipzig stand. If Bayern and Nagelsmann want each other, then it is likely to happen, but it isn’t necessarily a foregone conclusion.
A full set of midweek fixtures could have a huge impact on the league table, but it’s what’s happening off the pitch that is providing the headlines.