One would imagine a positive annual financial statement differently, but that’s just the way this business is. In football, even at the worst of times, there are decisions that turn many things upside down. And this time it got Niko Kovac. According to media reports, one day before the end of this year he will be working at the Monaco Football Club Sports Association lost.
The 50-year-old Croat had been head coach at AS Monaco since summer 2020. But on Thursday the club bosses informed him at short notice that he was no longer responsible for the team. This is what the French sports newspaper reports The team.
Kovac, once a player and coach in the Bundesliga in Berlin, Hamburg, Leverkusen, Frankfurt and at FC Bayern, was therefore not acutely surprised by the decision – his end has already made him, as they say. Monaco has not yet officially confirmed the separation. Rather, a report with a grinning Kovac appears on the club’s website. They want to “end the year with a success,” it says. What is meant is the league game against Rennes, which France’s table sixth won shortly before Christmas (2-1).
But this success didn’t stop those in charge of Monaco from taking Kovac on leave. In general, there is something obscure about the dismissal, because the team had recently recovered after a mixed start to the season. You had won three of the last four games, and you are also in the round of 16 in the Europa League. In his first season Monaco had done largely well, with Kovac finishing third with one of the youngest teams in Europe’s top leagues in Ligue 1. Shortly before the end, you even had a small chance of winning the title.
The football that Kovac, who was born in Berlin, played in the principality was typical of him: physical, disciplined, mostly geared towards counterattacks. With his robust assault football, Kovac was once successful in Frankfurt, but there were reservations in Munich – in Monte Carlo his defensive approach seemed to be working again. At least until last summer. Since Monaco failed against Shakhtar Donetsk in qualifying for the Champions League. Above all, club boss Dmitri Evgenjewitsch Rybolowlew, a Russian multi-billionaire, would have liked to see his investment represented at the highest level.
In Monaco, it seems that Kovac has never been entirely forgiven for missing out on big business. Expectations were high, as were the investments in the team, but Kovac often owed the spectacle. It was difficult against the top teams in particular, and goalkeeper Alexander Nübel (on loan from Bayern) and national player Kevin Volland (currently five goals this season) couldn’t change anything.
What exactly Kovac failed is the subject of speculation. In his first year he was still considered a strategically clever mediator between Monaco’s veterans and the many talents. But in the past few days there had been rumors that dissatisfaction with him had grown. The lack of further development of the team is a factor that he was accused of internally. But there should also have been difficulties in dealing with individual players. According to The team Atmospheric disturbances accumulated between the English-speaking Kovac and parts of the team. The relationship with his team was “torn”, so the sheet.
There is even talk of a “quasi-military” leadership style of the coach, which has sometimes become too loud and thus triggered uncertainty. Some things are reminiscent of Kovac’s replacement at Bayern: There, too, after initial success, he ultimately lost the dressing room when some established players (for example in the Champions League out against Liverpool) struggled with his wait-and-see tactics.
Now it’s over for the two-time German champion in Monaco too. On Sunday, the club will continue in the cup at the second division US Quevilly-Rouen Metropole. It is not yet clear who will be the newcomer on the sidelines of the Monegasque. Two names in particular are already in circulation: Belgian Philippe Clement could come to Monaco from Club Bruges – or Jesse Marsch, who was recently dismissed in Leipzig. Sports director Paul Mitchell in particular has a good relationship with him. You know each other through the common Red Bull tangent. Mitchell once worked for RB as a scout.