Mention the name ‘Jupp Heynckes’ anywhere in the environs of the Allianz Arena, the Sabener Strasse, or come to think of it, anywhere in the vicinity of a Bayern Munich supporter, and their eyes are sure to light up and a smile will duly appear.
Heynckes is nothing short of a footballing Messiah for Bayern Munich fans, having had four spells in charge of the Bavarians and leading them to the historic treble in 2013 delivering the Bundesliga title (his third with the club), the DFB Pokal and more importantly the Champions League.
The 72-year-old is currently leading FCB to further glory after being persuaded to replace Carlo Ancelotti earlier this season with the Bayern machine running far from smoothly. Everything Don Jupp touches seems to turn to gold, with his CV and list of honours the envy of many.
However, it wasn’t always so and there is a reason he has had four spells in charge of Bayern Munich. Uli Hoeness has since admitted that it was “the worst decision I have ever made”, but back in October 1991, the then Bayern trainer was unceremoniously fired by the club with Bayern languishing down in 12th place in the Bundesliga.
Heynckes, having enjoyed huge success as a player with Borussia Mönchengladbach and Hannover, made the transition to coaching very easily when he succeeded Udo Lattek as Mönchengladbach coach in 1979. He guided the Fohlen until 1987 when once again he was chosen to replace Lattek again- this time at Bayern Munich.
His first season at the then Olympiastadion saw him yet again miss out on the title with Werder Bremen pipping Bayern to the Bundesliga crown by four points. Both the DFB Pokal and the European Cup brought quarter-final exits. There was to follow two years of success with back to back league titles in 1988-89 and 1989-90 with Klaus Augenthaler captaining the side and Roland Wohlfarth providing the goals. The European Cup was again to prove elusive with a semi-final exit to AC Milan.
1990-91 was the last season before the Bundesliga was unified, but Bayern lost out on a third successive title when Kaiserslautern beat them to top spot by a three-point margin. It was to prove the beginning of the end for Heynckes at Bayern Munich and within five months he would be fired.
The 1991-92 season began with a point away at Werder Bremen, but then came a shock 2-1 defeat in their first home game to unfancied Hansa Rostock from the former East Germany. Bayern seemed to have recovered with three wins on the trot, however in the following nine games they could manage only one victory. Newly promoted Stuttgarter Kickers beat them 4-1 at the Olympiastadion days after they had been humiliated in the DFB Pokal by losing to FC Homburg in the second round (they had a bye in the first). Both Rostock and Kickers were to be relegated at the end of the season, highlighting just how poor Bayern were at the time.
With pressure mounting from the stands and from the tabloid press following the debacle against Stuttgarter Kickers, the club reacted with Uli Hoeness announcing Heynckes had been sacked with the club down in 12th position.
To be fair on Heynckes, he alone couldn’t really carry the can for Bayern’s plight. The squad had been severely weakened by the retirement of Augenthaler and the sale of both Jürgen Kohler and Stefan Reuter to Juventus. The players signed were ultimately of insufficient quality (Oliver Kreuzer/ Bruno Labbadia) and injuries hit the squad hard. With Stefan Effenberg also reportedly causing problems both on and off the pitch, the circumstances surrounding the start of the 1991-92 season were far from ideal.
But as is always the case, it is the coach whose head is on the chopping board and Heynckes paid the penalty with his job. Little did anyone know the success he would go on to have in Spain and then back in Germany with Bayern Munich.
Hoeness has since admitted that it was a mistake to fire his ‘friend’ and revealed there were tears when he called Heynckes to his home to inform him of the club’s decision. However, Heynckes also had enemies within the club with Treasurer Kurt Hegerich no fan of the Rheinlander’s lack of empathy for the culture of Bavaria. The fans of the Südkurve and the season ticket holders in the Haupttribune were also not shy in insulting the trainer and demanding his removal.
Nowadays Jupp Heynckes enjoys the freedom of the city of Munich (the red half at least), and you would be hard pushed to find a single fan with a bad word to say about him. Back in 1991 though, it was a different story.
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