Bayern president: Criticism from Eintracht Frankfurt 'rather outrageous'
MUNICH -- Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness hit back at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, calling criticism over the hiring of Niko Kovac "rather outrageous."
Bayern announced Kovac had agreed a three-year contract to become their new coach on Friday, triggering a reported €2.2 million release clause in the 46-year-old's Eintracht Frankfurt deal.
However, the story had already made the headlines the evening before in Germany, and Eintracht sporting director Fredi Bobic accused Bayern of leaking the news, a move he called "annoying, unprofessional and lacking respect."
However, Hoeness reacted angrily to Bobic's comments in speaking to Sky Deutschland following Bayern's 5-1 win over Borussia Monchengladbach.
"We view Fredi Bobic's statement as rather outrageous," Hoeness said. "We acted very professionally because we took advantage of a loophole in Niko Kovac's contract -- which he had inserted himself. That's very professional.
"We thought long and hard about when to tell Frankfurt. In the end, we told them as soon as possible so that they have an extra month to hire an alternative.
"We didn't leak the story to the press. It's rude to suggest this when you don't know exactly what went on. We had no interest in leaking -- we wanted to protect Eintracht."
Kovac said on Friday that he was only offered the job only on Thursday and then made his decision to accept it. However, the Suddeutsche newspaper claimed that Bayern met Kovac two weeks ago to discuss the job.
Bayern's sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic was also reluctant to reveal exactly when Kovac was approached, sidestepping the question in an earlier Sky interview.
However, Hoeness offered: "We met Niko Kovac by chance at my Croatian chauffeur's 60th birthday party. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was also invited with his wife and Robert and Niko Kovac also attended at a restaurant on the outskirts of Munich. It's stupid to suggest that we hold contract talks in front of 60 invited guests."
A peeved Hoeness then accused Sky reporter Patrick Wasserziehr of "public prosecution office" tactics and the interview ended abruptly.
On the pitch, champions Bayern recovered from falling a goal behind after nine minutes to thrash Gladbach courtesy of a quickfire first-half double from Sandro Wagner and second-half goals from Thiago, David Alaba and substitute Robert Lewandowski to move 23 points ahead at the top.
Outgoing coach Jupp Heynckes warned the rest of the Bundesliga that the champions will not let up in their efforts during the rest of the season.
"We will not slacken in the championship, we must maintain our rhythm," he said. "We made seven changes from the Sevilla game and it took us 20 minutes to get going. Then we gradually took control of the game, taking lead with two goals before half time.
"After the break we played exceptional football at times, with some quality moves and passing. Our team spirit is amazing."
When asked about his successor, Heynckes said: "Niko Kovac is a good choice, he is doing a very good job at Eintracht Frankfurt. It's a huge opportunity for him. Many top international coaches would bite off your hand for this job."
Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.