Germany's wealthiest soccer club Bayern Munich has fired its coach Jürgen Klinsmann after just 10 months. The move comes after a string of defeats that included quarter-final exits from the European Champions League and the German Cup.
Klinsmann, 44, has been replaced by Jupp Heynckes, 63, a seasoned coach who has managed top clubs including Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Benfica and Schalke 04. But Heynckes will only stay until the end of the season. The club is on the lookout for a new permanent coach.
Klinsmann's contract would have run to June 30, 2010, and the former Germany national coach had said on Saturday he was convinced he would remain on at Bayern Munich.
But the team's 1-0 defeat to Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga, Germany's top league, on Saturday, appears to have sealed his fate at Bayern because it lessened the chances of winning the league this year.
A top spot in the league is essential to ensure qualification for the Champions League next season. The annual competition, which features Europe's best clubs, is highly lucrative in terms of income from seat sales, advertising and fees for TV viewing rights.
"After the recent results, the board of FC Bayern Munich saw its minimum targets for this season in danger and decided to take this step," the club said in a statement on its Web site.
Klinsmann said in a statement: "Of course I'm very disappointed at the moment. But I want to give my heartfelt thanks to Bayern Munich, its fans, the trainers, the players and the staff for this eventful time."
"We have laid the foundation for the future. I still believe that the team can become German champions this season."
Klinsmann, as then-coach of the national team, became a hero in Germany during the 2006 World Cup, which was hosted by Germany. The side unexpectedly reached the semi-finals of the World Cup, losing to Italy after a string of impressive performances that enthralled the nation.
Klinsmann joined Bayern Munich on June 30 last year amid high hopes that he would reinvigorate the side with his modern training methods and philosophy of fast attacking football.
But his methods failed to inspire the club, which has won more awards than any other German side and which has come to expect victory.
Bayern's fans had already lost faith in Klinsmann following the embarrassing 4-0 drubbing by Barcelona in the Champions League on April 8 in which Bayern, despite fielding top stars such as Franck Ribéry of France and Italy's Luca Toni, were completely outclassed.
By that time, Klinsmann's position had already started looking precarious after disappointing performances in the Bundesliga which included a 5-0 defeat to Wolfsburg.
Recent matches had been accompanied by shouts of "Klinsmann raus" ("Klinsmann out") from the stands.
Bayern has lost seven of 29 matches in the Bundesliga this season, its second worst performance in the last 10 years.