Football: Who's next for Bayern's poisoned chalice?

BERLIN, March 9, 2011 (AFP) - While Guus Hiddink, Martin Jol and even Germany trainer Joachim Loew have been tipped to succeed Louis van Gaal as Bayern Munich coach, history shows it is a hard job to hold down.

AFP FILES - Picture taken on September 3, 2010 shows Germany's national football team head coach Joachim Loew

Since current Swiss national coach Ottmar Hitzfeld left Munich in 2004 after six seasons in charge, Bayern have failed to keep a coach at the helm for more than a couple of seasons.

Despite leading Bayern to last season's Champions League final, plus the league and cup double, Van Gaal will leave the Bavarian giants at season's end in May after three straight defeats in a disastrous ten-day period.

The Dutchman's fall from grace has been swift.

All had appeared rosy on February 23 when Bayern won 1-0 at holders Inter Milan in the Champions League Last 16, first-leg tie.

But home defeats to Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund, then Schalke 04, effectively ended their involvement in the league title race and dumped Bayern out of the German Cup.

The death knell for Van Gaal's two-year reign came in Hanover on Saturday when his side capitulated after conceding an early goal and lost 3-1.

With "differing views on the club's strategic direction" cited as the reason for the separation, the German media are scrambling to dream up who will replace Van Gaal.

Those reported to be in the frame include Turkey coach and ex-Chelsea boss Hiddink, previous Ajax, Hamburg and Tottenham Hotspur manager Jol and former Bayern handler Jupp Heynckes, who won the Champions League with Real Madrid in 1998.

Even German daily Bild, who rarely get things wrong, claim Loew is a genuine candidate for the Bayern job.

Certainly, it would be difficult to imagine Loew, who has a contract until after Euro 2012, abandoning the Germany team he took to third at the World Cup in favour of the weekly tribulations others have endured in Munich.

Felix Magath was sacked in February 2007 with his side fourth in the league, despite having won the league and cup double in the previous two seasons.

Magath went onto win the Bundesliga with VfL Wolfsburg in 2009 and guided Schalke to second in the table last season.

Jurgen Klinsmann, who steered Germany to third at the 2006 World Cup, was dismissed by Bayern in April 2009 after less than a season in charge.

Heynckes, whom Bayern called in temporarily after Klinsmann was sacked, is a realistic candidate to replace Van Gaal.

He is out of contract at Bayer Leverkusen at the end of the season and took over at Bayern in the wake of Klinsmann's defeat for the five remaining league matches.

"We are pretty relaxed about things," said Leverkusen's general manager Wolfgang Holzhaeuser.

"There is speculation on different levels which you can comment on, but we hope that Jupp Heynckes will commit to us soon."

Quite why an experienced coach like the 65-year-old would want his third spell in Munich is open for debate, especially as success is both demanded and expected by Bayern.

Certainly Van Gaal's personal motto -- Mia san Mia (I am what I am) -- did not help his case at Bayern.

President Uli Hoeness attacked him last October by claiming the Dutchman is hard to work with and ignores the opinions of others.

Van Gaal is not the first coach to fall foul of Hoeness or Bayern's relentless appetitite for success.

Any coach who threatens to lead Bayern to anything less than second in the table -- and a Champions League place -- can expect to be shown the door.

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