Bayern Munich and Coach Louis van Gaal to part ways at season's end
On Monday it acted, coming to an agreement with Coach Louis van Gaal that will see the Dutchman leave at the end of this season.
Consideration was given to dismissing Van Gaal immediately, but according to Franz Beckenbauer, the club's honorary president, the compromise was preferable to hiring an interim coach for the remainder of the season.
"He has made mistakes, but in the past has proven to be a great coach," Beckenbauer said. "I would prefer him than a short-term solution."
Van Gaal, 59, had agreed as recently as the end of September to a one-year contract extension that would have kept him at the Bundelsiga club until the end of the 2011-12 season. But what Bayern Munich described as a "difference in opinion about the strategic direction of the club" led to Monday's decision to end the relationship a year early.
Van Gaal was hired in 2009 after Bayern fired Juergen Klinsmann. He led the team to the league and cup championship in his first year and to the final of the European Champions League, losing the title game to Inter Milan.
This season, Bayern has slumped to fifth place in the Bundesliga and has been knocked out of the German Cup. It defeated Inter Milan in the first leg of the Champions League round-of-16 games, with the return leg in Germany on March 15.
It remains possible, in other words, that Van Gaal could lead the team to a European championship and still be sent on his way.
"We are in a situation that concerns us all," said Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Bayern Munich's chief executive. "We have suffered three defeats in a week which have jeopardized our targets for the season."
Bayer Leverkusen Coach Jupp Heynckes, a former Bayern Munich coach, already has been rumored as a possible successor to Van Gaal.
-- Grahame L. Jones
Photo: Louis van Gaal. Credit: Patrik Stollarz / AFP / Getty Images