Van Gaal to leave Bayern Munich at end of season

Bayern Munich said Monday that coach Louis van Gaal is to leave at the end of the season, one year early, after three defeats in a row and qualification for the Champions League on a knife-edge.

Van Gaal to leave Bayern Munich at end of season
Photo: DPA

“The reason for the contract being annulled is differing views on the club’s strategic direction,” the Bundesliga club said in a statement.

The German giants, who are accustomed to winning, are fifth in the Bundesliga and seven points adrift of the second place that would guarantee Champions League football next season. By their standards this is a poor season.

“Of course we know, looking at the Bundesliga table, that it will be very hard to qualify for the Champions League next season, but we are going to give it our all,” chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said Monday.

Following successful spells at Barcelona and Ajax Amsterdam, Van Gaal was recruited from Dutch side AZ Alkmaar in 2009 after Bayern dumped former Germany coach Jürgen Klinsmann following a string of poor results.

After a slow start, van Gaal took the German giants to a 22nd league title, their 15th Cup and a Champions League final in which they lost 2-0 to a Jose Mourinho-inspired Inter Milan.

Bayern’s patience with the 59-year-old Dutchman appeared to have run out after a fully deserved 3-1 defeat to Hannover on Saturday, which left them 19 points shy of where the defending champions expect to be – at the top.

The Bild daily said the club held a five-hour long crisis meeting on Sunday involving Rummenigge, number two Karl Hopfner, president Uli Hoeneß and director of sport Christian Nerlinger.

After the Hannover game, Rummenigge said the defeat and the manner of the

loss had been for him the “low point” of the whole season.

The paper reported earlier Monday that van Gaal had been given a three-game stay of execution – two Bundesliga games and next Tuesday’s Champions League round-of-16 second leg clash with Inter Milan.

If they don’t win these games, and Bayern fail to qualify for the Champions League – the final of which will be at Bayern’s Munich ground in 2012 – the Dutchman could be shown the door even sooner, Bild said.

Bayern Munich said only that van Gaal had agreed that all efforts would go towards meeting certain “minimum targets” this season.

Possible successors touted in the German press include Turkey coach and former Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink, former Ajax, Hamburg and Tottenham boss Martin Jol and a return to Munich for Bayer Leverkusen’s Jupp Heynckes.

Bild said negotiations had already been opened with the first two of these options, as well as with Matthias Sammer, currently director of sport at the German Football Federation.

With a characteristic lack of modesty and an undertone of spite, van Gaal himself said in late 2010 that his were not easy shoes to fill.

“There are not many who have my experience and track record,” he said.

“(Manchester United’s Sir Alex) Ferguson, Mourinho and (England boss Fabio) Capello maybe, but they need to be able to speak German and Capello still can’t speak English.”

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Four injured as WWII bomb explodes near Munich train station

Four people were injured, one of them seriously, when a World War II bomb exploded at a building site near Munich's main train station on Wednesday, emergency services said.

Smoke rises after the WWII bomb exploded on a building site in Munich.
Smoke rises after the WWII bomb exploded on a building site in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Privat

Construction workers had been drilling into the ground when the bomb exploded, a spokesman for the fire department said in a statement.

The blast was heard several kilometres away and scattered debris hundreds of metres, according to local media reports.

Images showed a plume of smoke rising directly next to the train tracks.

Bavaria interior minister Joachim Herrmann told Bild that the whole area was being searched.

Deutsche Bahn suspended its services on the affected lines in the afternoon.

Although trains started up again from 3pm, the rail operator said there would still be delays and cancellations to long-distance and local travel in the Munich area until evening. 

According to the fire service, the explosion happened near a bridge that must be passed by all trains travelling to or from the station.

The exact cause of the explosion is unclear, police said. So far, there are no indications of a criminal act.

WWII bombs are common in Germany

Some 75 years after the war, Germany remains littered with unexploded ordnance, often uncovered during construction work.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about WWII bomb disposals in Germany

However, most bombs are defused by experts before they explode.

Last year, seven World War II bombs were found on the future location of Tesla’s first European factory, just outside Berlin.

Sizeable bombs were also defused in Cologne and Dortmund last year.

In 2017, the discovery of a 1.4-tonne bomb in Frankfurt prompted the evacuation of 65,000 people — the largest such operation since the end of the war in Europe in 1945.