MUNICH (AP) — Bayern Munich hired Thomas Tuchel as coach on Friday to replace Julian Nagelsmann after losing the lead of the Bundesliga and ahead of a potentially title-deciding game.
Bayern chief executive Oliver Kahn blamed “big fluctuations in performance” and said the squad wasn’t showing its true potential under Nagelsmann.
Tuchel will take over training from Monday with a contract until the end of the 2024-25 season. His first game in charge will be a “Klassiker” against Borussia Dortmund on April 1 that could play a key role in the title race.
The decision to remove Nagelsmann came after the team lost at Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 in the Bundesliga on Sunday, dropping to second place, a point behind Dortmund.
“Julian shares our aspiration to play successful and attractive football. But now we have come to the conclusion that the quality in our squad — despite the Bundesliga title last year — has come to the fore less and less often,” Kahn said.
“After the World Cup we have played less successfully and less attractively. The big fluctuations in performance have cast doubt on our goals for this season, but also our goals for the future. That is why we have acted now.”
Bayern’s domestic league form over the last two months has been mixed, but the removal of Nagelsmann was widely seen as a surprise, especially following an assured win over Paris Saint-Germain this month to reach the Champions League quarterfinals. In a sign of loyalty to Nagelsmann within the squad, midfielder Joshua Kimmich praised him as an “outstanding” coach on Friday.
Tuchel led Chelsea to the Champions League title in 2021 and previously coached PSG — with whom he lost the 2020 Champions League final to Bayern — and Dortmund. Tuchel has been without a job since September when he was fired by Chelsea’s new American ownership after a surprise loss to Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb.
Bayern faces Manchester City in the Champions League quarterfinals on April 11.
Nagelsmann was Bayern’s youngest coach in 30 years when he was given a five-year contract at age 33 in 2021. The year before, he took Leipzig to the Champions League semifinals, where they lost to Tuchel’s PSG.
Nagelsmann’s intense pressing style with a high defensive line brought last season’s Bundesliga title and some high-scoring wins — Bayern averages nearly three goals scored per game in the Bundesliga this season — but also notable losses to counterattacking teams.
The loss to Leverkusen was the fifth time in 10 league games in 2023 that Bayern dropped points, raising Dortmund’s hopes of ending the Munich club’s 10-year streak of German league titles. Nagelsmann’s position appeared more secure after Bayern eliminated PSG in the Champions League this month.
There has also been tension off the field. Nagelsmann said last week a hunt was underway for an alleged mole at Bayern after a German newspaper published details of his tactics.
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was publicly critical of Bayern after his goalkeeping coach and friend Toni Tapalovic was fired in January. Neuer, who is out injured after breaking his leg skiing in December, called the firing “the worst thing I’ve experienced in my career” in an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and The Athletic website, and was criticized by the club management and Nagelsmann for his comments.
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