Bayern Munich have sacked their coach Felix Magath following two dismal displays since the Bundesliga restarted after the winter break. The club confirmed that former coach Ottmar Hitzfeld will take over.
Hitzfeld returns after a three-year sabbatical
"We regret this decision," said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. "But in our role as managers of the club we have to see real development and take action."
Rummenigge said the club's board was concerned that Bayern were currently out of the qualification spots for next season's Champions League.
Off to a bad start
The split came 24 hours after Bayern were held to an embarrassing goalless draw by newly promoted VfL Bochum, which left them five points adrift of Bundesliga leaders Werder Bremen. They could find themselves lagging eight points off the lead if Werder beat Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.
Tuesday's result left Magath's position decidedly shaky given that in three weeks time Bayern face Real Madrid in the Champions League last 16 at the Bernabeu.
Two league and cup doubles in consecutive seasons couldn't save Magath's job
Bayern's year failed to get off to the best of starts when their opening game since the winter break resulted in a 3-2 loss to Borussia Dortmund.
Hitzfeld, 58, led Bayern to four German championships and a Champions League title in his first spell as manager between 1999 and 2004, when Magath moved to Bavaria from VfB Stuttgart. Besides his achievements with Bayern, Hitzfeld also guided Borussia Dortmund to two German titles and a Champions League crown.
Rumor mill pinpoints Houllier
Magath, 53, said he was proud of leading Bayern to two league and Cup doubles.
"Obviously this isn't the best news because I'm proud of the two great years touched with success that I've had here," he said. "But it's always been clear that my contract could come to an end one day."
It is rumored that current Lyon manager and former Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier is being lined up to take the reins at Bayern in time for the start of next season.
Magath was the second Bundesliga coach to part company with his club on Wednesday after former Germany international Jupp Heynckes quit as coach of relegation-threatened Borussia Monchengladbach.