Bayern Munich mastermind Jupp Heynckes has hinted at his own retirement after the Champions League semifinal win over Barcelona. The Bavarian establishment would rather like Heynckes, left in photo, to do so.
Bayern's cautious coach, Jupp Heynckes, came a little closer to indicating his intentions for the end of this season after his club's 7-0 aggregate triumph over Barcelona to set up an all-German Champions League final in May. But he still didn't nail his colors too clearly to the mast.
"I will turn 68 years old on May 8," Heynckes said after the match. "Then, I will have spent 50 years in football either as a player or a coach. At some point you think, 'That's enough'."
Heynckes will leave Bayern, who have hired ex-Barcelona tactician Josep "Pep" Guardiola, in the summer, but his past reticence regarding his future prompted a wave of speculation in the German and European press. The veteran coach was linked with Schalke, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao and others.
This chatter was not particularly well received on Munich's Säbener Strasse, considering that Bayern insisted when announcing the signing of Guardiola in January that Heynckes would quit the game.
Two days later, after a conspicuous silence, the coach finally said on public television that "I alone will decide when I'm retiring." Whatever Heynckes, known as a stickler for decorum, had planned, it quickly became clear that he did not appreciate the not-so-gentle nudge from his current employers.
Beckenbauer: It doesn't get any better
Bayern Munich's honorary president Franz Beckenbauer, German football's "Kaiser" and TV analyst, said on Sky Germany that he thought Heynckes should call it a day.
"He should take it easier and doesn't need this daily - dirty - grind any more," Beckenbauer said on Sky. "I cannot recommend that he stay in the coaching business. It doesn't get any better than this, and, besides, he's pushing 70."
If Bayern, already Bundesliga champions by a record margin, can beat Stuttgart in the German Cup final and Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final, it would cap a memorable treble - surely representing the most successful season in five decades of football for Heynckes.
"The team's playing wonderful football this season," Heynckes said at Barcelona airport on Thursday before heading home for Saturday's league match, also against Borussia Dortmund. "We boast a wonderful harmony, we are playing at a world-class level."
Guardiola: I can cope
Bayern's potential triple threatens to pile more pressure on incoming coach Guardiola, who has never played or coached in the Bundesliga but enjoyed spectacular success during his tenure with Barcelona.
"I can cope with that," the 42-year-old said during a speech in Bogota late on Wednesday. "Every player and every coach in the world wants to win every game. If that weren't the case, it would be tragic."
The midfielder-turned-manager said he simply intended to "keep trying to solve problems, day in, day out, to talk to people and listen to my gut instinct."
Guardiola also praised Bayern, who have conceded three goals in just one match all season, for "playing a murderously strong season," though he added it was too soon to talk of a changing of the guard in European competition. The four Champions League semifinalists - Bayern, Dortmund, Real Madrid and Barcelona - were all "on the same level," Guardiola said.
msh/mkg (dpa, SID)