Berlin (AFP) – At 72, Jupp Heynckes is the object of Bayern Munich’s desire and the club is launching a charm offensive launched to persuade the coach to stay.
Since Heynckes returned as head coach for his fourth stint at the club, stars like Javi Martinez and James Rodriguez have bloomed and Bayern have won 16 of their 17 games.
Bayern were five points behind in the Bundesliga table when Heynckes replaced Carlo Ancelotti in October, yet start this weekend with a 13-point lead before Sunday’s home game against Werder Bremen.
After a stormy beginning to 2017/18 under Ancelotti, Heynckes has righted the boat leaving Bayern on course for a sixth straight Bundesliga title.
Club president Uli Hoeness and chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge desperately want him to stay. But Heynckes insists he will only stay until the end of the season.
“There is a charm offensive by Uli, which I totally support,” said Rummenigge.
“We have played 17 games now and won 16 of them.
“All the young players love him.
“We would be bad advisers if we allow him to leave without a fight.
“I cannot rule out Jupp Heynckes still sitting on the bench past July 1.”
– Tough tackling –
Heynckes, who landed the 2013 treble of Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League titles before four years in retirement, has got Bayern firing again.
He introduced tougher training sessions than Ancelotti and coaxed performances from previously under-performing stars.
Arturo Vidal is back to his tough-tacking best in midfield since Heynckes ordered the Chile international to train harder.
Likewise, Martinez has been a revelation and is set to play his 100th Bundesliga match on Sunday.
The Spaniard was switched back into the defensive midfield by Heynckes having been used as a centre-back under Heynckes’ predecessors Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola.
Martinez scored his first league goal this season in Friday’s 3-1 win at Leverkusen in what his coach described as a “flawless display”.
“No one could have known what four years away from football had done to Jupp,” Martinez told FCBayern.de
“Now I know: he’s stayed the same. He still has his personality – he always knows exactly when to tighten the reins.”
Rodriguez is thriving in the freedom Heynckes has given the Colombian.
The 26-year-old laboured under Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid, but rediscovered his form on loan in Munich.
Rodriguez effortlessly drilled home a superb free-kick at Leverkusen and has stepped up in Bayern’s big Bundesliga games this season, scoring against Schalke and Leipzig, as well as setting up goals against Dortmund.
“You can see how happy he is every day in training,” Heynckes said of James.
“He realises that he’s allowed to make mistakes and that it’s not a reflection of his performance if he’s taken off.”
While Rodriguez insists “my future is here”, Bayern hope their coach feels the same way, but Heynckes shows no signs of bowing to pressure from the club.
– Advancing years –
“To do this job as I do takes personal discipline and extreme endurance,” Heynckes argued in magazine Kicker recently.
“I’m going to be 73 (on May 9) and at that age, you don’t know how many years you have left.”
A Munich hotel has been Heynckes’ home since October with his wife and pet dog Condo back at the family house in Moenchengladbach.
“He doesn’t eat for two days when I leave,” Heynckes said of Condo.
Rummenigge says Bayern dare not risk forcing Heynckes into a decision and must treat him with the “necessary elegance”, but the head coach is clearly annoyed by constant speculation.
“This is all to much for me, I don’t like it and I am not flattered by it either,” Heynckes said tersely on Friday.
“I will hopefully have the chance to talk to them, then I will give my opinion.”
If Hoeness’ seduction techniques fail to win over Heynckes, Bayern have said they want a German-speaking coach.
Big names such as Jurgen Klopp, Thomas Tuchel, Julian Nagelsmann and Ralph Hasenhuettl have been touted as possible options by the media.
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