Bayern Munich have confirmed that Jupp Heynckes has returned to manage the club for the rest of the season.
He replaces Carlo Ancelotti, who was sacked after a poor start to the season, by Bayern’s high standards, and amidst reports of player unrest.
It is a fourth spell in charge for the 72-year-old, who had retired in 2013 after leading Bayern to the treble.
High standard to live up to
Following the departure of Ancelotti, Willy Sagnol was installed the caretaker for the 2-2 draw with Hertha BSC. Thomas Tuchel was widely seen as the favourite to be a permanent successor, and was favoured by club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, whereas it appeared too early to tempt long-term target Julian Nagelsmann, preferred by President Uwe Hoeneß, away from TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.
The decision to bring back Heynckes therefore appears to be a comprise measure, a safe pair of hands to steady the ship, tow the senior players into line and, theoretically, inspire them to charge their way to retaining the Bundesliga title and maybe even if lift the UEFA Champions League, before a younger man, presumably Nagelsmann, is persuaded to take over next summer.
Heynckes may well be judged by his own high standards. He made way for Pep Guardiola at the end of his third spell with the club having led them to both of those titles, as well as the DFB-Pokal. That though was a squad at the peak of its power, whereas the likes of Arjen Robben and the currently-injured Franck Ribéry are beginning to age.
He also took over temporarily at the Allianz Arena following the departure of Jürgen Klinsmann in 2009, whilst in his first spell with the club between 1987 and 1991 he also lead the team to two Bundesliga titles.
"A great deal of trust"
News of his shock return was initially revealed by Bild on Wednesday, who suggested an announcement would be imminent. Heynckes himself confirmed to RP Online the following day that the club had asked him to come back, but that he had not yet made his mind up.
However once the club had secured a return for one of his former assistants, namely Peter Hermann, who had been with Fortuna Düsseldorf, the formalities were completed on Friday. Hermann Gerland, who also worked with Heynckes in his previous spell, will also return to the dugout with him, temporarily stepping aside from his current role in charge of the club's academy.
In a club statement announcing the appointment on Friday afternoon, Rummenigge said that “there is a great deal of trust” between Heynckes and the club, and that he is “the ideal coach for Bayern at the moment.”
Heynckes himself said that he “would not have returned to any club in the world except Bayern Munich.” He is not “very much looking forward” to working with the team and getting them back on track for the rest of the season.
He will formerly begin work on Monday, and his first game back with the club will be against SC Freiburg next Saturday.
Quotes via Bayern Munich.