Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness displayed once and for all to the basketball world that he is in charge of his club’s hoops project as he explained his decision to fire head coach Dirk Bauermann by arguing that the players were clearly not working hard enough and didn’t have the discipline before saying Germany’s most successful coach should not have been surprised with his firing.
“It wasn’t a spontaneous decision. It was an issue over the last three, four, five months. Even last season there was a situation where we were just about to part ways but we just made it to the playoffs. If you look at the team breakdown in the second and third quarter you can see that the team is physically not fit in the least,” Hoeness said on the German Sport1 channel show Bundesliga Aktuell after Bayern Munich’s embarrassing 80-61 home loss against EWE Baskets Oldenburg to tip off the 2012-13 season.
“It wasn’t the first time that we talked to Dirk Bauermann about things. We had been of the opinion for a while that not enough work was being done and the players’ condition left much to be desired. If the players have enough energy to go out almost every night then they are not working enough during the day. If you look at today’s game and see how many “set pieces” we missed – namely three-pointers and free throws – then it’s clear that they are working enough. That must be improved and then it will get better.”
The “go out almost every night” comment refers to an incident in mid-September when Jared Homan, Chevon Troutman and Tyrese Rice went out on an unauthorized night on the town in Berlin. Homan was detained by Munich police last winter late night but did not face any disciplinary action and his contract was extended two years.
“I told the guys in the locker room (after the Oldenburg game) that they must work hard. The two things more important than anything else are work and discipline. Those are the things that have not developed very well over the last few months. Let’s see how things develop and then we will look again in six or eight weeks where we are,” said Hoeness.
The Bayern president reiterated that the club is happy with Bauermann’s assistant Yannis Christopoulos as its new head coach.
“We spoke with him about his concept. He presented a spectacular concept and we have full trust in it,” said Hoeness.
Bayern sports director Marko Pesic confirmed that on the broadcast as well.
“Yannis is not an interim solution. He just has to work. We have four games in the next two weeks. We need to make it past this stage,” said Pesic.
And Christopoulos said he is fully committed to the job.
“There’s no question I want the job. If I didn’t want it I would be home walking my dog. I’m here to win with these guys and get it done,” said the Greek coach, who had worked with Bauermann in Hagen and in Greece.
Hoeness said he didn’t have any choice but to make a decision.
“I am not with the basketball team every day, but when I ask around in the club, nine out of 10 people said he should be fired. So the executive board must react,” said the former German football star.
“And it doesn’t make any difference if it’s before the first game or in the middle of the season. I believe it was the right time because now we have enough time to make good the deficits the team had. Nobody can tell me that this team is not good enough to be one of the top teams. Those were, after all, the players that Dirk Bauermann and Marko Pesic brought in to become German champion. That was the clear wish of the executive board and his. And now we have to see what happens.”
Hoeness downplayed talk that there was a personality rift between Bauermann and himself.
“We were just of the clear opinion that not enough work was being done and that not enough was being done with the potential. And we were concerned that it would be the same this year and that’s why we reacted,” said the Bayern boss.
One thing that surprised Hoeness was the fact that Bauermann was surprised about his firing.
“At the last talk he was surprised but I guess he has lost touch with reality. If he gets talked to three or four times about these issues like we did and then he is surprised, then I don’t know what the world’s coming to. That really surprised me,” said Hoeness.
The president then drew a comparison between Bauermann and former Bayern football coach Louis van Gaal, who was sacked late in the 2010-11 season.
“In that regard there is a parallel to Louis van Gaal. Because he (Bauermann) could not imagine that FC Bayern would dare take this step because he thought he had such a strong position in basketball that we could not afford to do that to him. But he was mistaken. We are only worried about people doing everything they can with what they have. And the answer to this question was easily no.”
Hoeness admitted he was very pleased that Bauermann insisted on bringing in Pesic as the personnel boss because the club is extremely happy with the job Pesic has done. And the president said the working relationship between Bauermann and Pesic had soured, calling it a “catastrophe”.
“It was no longer a matter of trust. Each person was pulling from other sides. And the club had to make a decision for a person in the end, and we sided with Pesic because we thought his arguments were better,” said Hoeness.
“I have lots of trust in Marko Pesic, who will play a much different role than in the past. And I am certain that he will solve this. He just needs the time and the patience and us to stand by his side.”
Hoeness also let out a grin when he talked about finally getting his hands dirty in the matters of the basketball team after more or less leaving it run itself for the first two seasons.
“Now it’s just getting fun. When things run well, then you just let them roll. Now I have to say I am really called upon for the first time from a leadership position. I really didn’t poke around much the first two years, but now I see that I am needed.”