Coach Thomas Tuchel to leave Bayern Munich at end of season

Bayern's head coach Thomas Tuchel looks on during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Bayern Munich and Union Berlin at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)

DUESSELDORF, Germany (AP) — Thomas Tuchel is leaving Bayern Munich and taking the fall for a disappointing season. The players have been warned, too.

Bayern announced Wednesday that Tuchel will leave the club at the end of the season, after a run of three straight losses raised the prospect of the club’s first campaign without a trophy in 12 years.

The announcement was accompanied by a pledge from chief executive Jan-Christian Dreesen to “hold the team accountable” for its performances on the field for the rest of the season.

With an eight-point deficit in the Bundesliga and Champions League hopes hanging by a thread, it seemed like a warning to players not to ease off and wait for a new coach.

Bayern said Tuchel’s departure was decided when he spoke with chief executive Jan-Christian Dreesen. Tuchel’s contract was due to run through the end of the 2024-25 season.

“In a good, open discussion, we came to the decision to end our working relationship by mutual agreement in the summer,” Dreesen said in a club statement. “Our goal is to pursue a new footballing direction with a new head coach for the 2024-25 season. Until then, every individual at the club is expressly called upon to achieve the maximum possible in the Champions League and Bundesliga. I also explicitly hold the team accountable in this regard.”

Tuchel has repeatedly said his squad trains well and then fails to perform to the same standard in games.

Tuchel said in the statement that “I will of course continue to do everything I can with my coaching staff to achieve maximum success” until he leaves the club. Bayern’s next game is Saturday at home to Leipzig with a squad heavily depleted by injuries.

There was no word from the club on a possible successor. Tuchel’s delayed departure could mean Bayern will be competing with Liverpool for the services of Xabi Alonso, as Jurgen Klopp is also leaving at the end of the season after nine years in charge of the English club.

Alonso is widely considered one of the most in-demand coaches in Europe after leading Leverkusen to first place in the Bundesliga in his first senior head coaching role. He was a player for both Bayern and Liverpool and would likely get a warm welcome from either club’s fans, though Alonso himself has declined to speculate on his future.

“I am really happy here. I am enjoying my work here,” Alonso said last month when Klopp announced his departure. “What’s going to happen in the future I don’t know, and I don’t really care at the moment.”

Other possible candidates could include Sebastian Hoeness, the nephew of Bayern’s honorary president Uli Hoeness. His Stuttgart team is a surprising third in the Bundesliga. Hansi Flick won the Champions League with Bayern in 2020 before moving to the German national team. He’s available but his national team tenure was largely unsuccessful and featured many of the same players from the Bayern squad.

Tuchel joined Bayern in March as the replacement for Julian Nagelsmann amid frustration from the Bayern hierarchy over the team’s lack of consistency, a problem that persists.

Last season, Tuchel’s team won the Bundesliga title for an 11th consecutive season in a thrilling end to the season. Bayern only won on goal difference after title rival Borussia Dortmund dropped points on the final day.

Losses to Leverkusen, Lazio and most recently Bochum on Sunday left Bayern eight points off Bundesliga leader Leverkusen with 12 games remaining and facing elimination in the Champions League round of 16. Bayern last lost three games in a row in all competitions at the end of the 2014-15 season under Pep Guardiola, though the team had already secured the Bundesliga title by then.

If Bayern can’t overturn a 1-0 deficit to Lazio in the second leg in Munich on March, it would be the German team’s earliest exit from the Champions League since a loss to Klopp’s Liverpool in the round of 16 in 2018-19.

Bayern was already knocked out of the German Cup in October by third-division Saarbruecken in one of the competition’s biggest ever shocks.

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