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Munich coach’s future undecided

Published on 24/03/2004

24 March 2004

MUNICH – Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge further fuelled speculation about the future of coach Ottmar Hitzfeld beyond this season in an interview with Sport Bild weekly published Wednesday.

“We have not reached a decision yet,” said Rummenigge.

“Second place doesn’t secure his job and neither does third place automatically lead to a separation,” he said.

Hitzfeld joined Bayern in 1998 and has a contract there until 2005. He won the 2001 Champions League, four Bundesliga and two German cup titles with the club.

With Werder Bremen 11 points clear of second-placed Bayern at the top of the table, Hitzfeld will very likely finish without a title this season, which sparked speculation that his term may be over in summer.

Munich have also been eliminated from the Champions League and German cup.

Media reports recently suggested that Munich may be interested in VfB Stuttgart coach Felix Magath. Rummenigge did not want to comment on whether Munich officials have talked with Magath.

For Bayern Munich, which perenially used to calling the shots in German football, the goal for the 2004 season ending in late May now is – second place.

“Our goal is now quite clearly second place,” general manager Uli Hoeness told the Munich daily Abendzeitung on Wednesday, saying this is vital to the club’s financial situation with the second berth guaranteeing a place in next year’s Champions League.

“The players must know that securing second place is now just as important as the German championship,” said Hoeness. “This is a guarantee for their incomes, because you can only earn big bonuses in the Champions League.”

With only 9 matches remaining in the Bundesliga season, Bayern are 11 points behind leaders Werder Bremen – but only 3 points ahead of VfB Stuttgart. The top two finishers qualify directly for the Champions League, while the third place club must go through a qualification round.

Hoeness did not say that Bayern’s finances were tight after the club’s recent exit from the Champions League at the hands of Real Madrid.

But he said the club would not be going on a shopping spree for new players, either, after last year handing out EUR 18.75 million for Dutch striker Roy Makaay. He called “unrealistic” any future transfer fee of EUR 10 million euros or more.

Subject: German news