Bayern Munich made a major change to their front office on Monday, appointing Matthias Sammer as the club's new sporting director. Christian Nerlinger paid the price for two seasons without a title.
After two seasons without winning a single title, it was clear to most observers that Germany's most successful soccer club would be making changes before heading into the upcoming Bundesliga campaign.
Still, many were surprised to learn on Monday that it was sporting director Christian Nerlinger who had been forced to pay what in professional soccer is the ultimate price.
"During the debriefing between the supervisory board, the executive and technical director Christian Nerlinger, which followed this past 2011-12 season, differing views about the concept for future of the team emerged," the club said in a statement.
Perhaps just as surprising as Nerlinger's departure, was the announcement that Matthias Sammer would be his replacement. Not that Sammer isn't qualified for the job, having held a similar job at the German football association (DFB). However it was surprising in the sense that he had only seven months ago signed a contract extension with the DFB, that would have seen him continue to head the federation's youth football and coaching program for the next four years.
The Bayern statement said the decision to let Nerlinger go had come during that debriefing but that the club had decided to put off the announcement until after the European championship in an effort to avoid the "disquiet that could be expected."
The agreement with Sammer was only finalized over the past weekend, and the announcement came just hours after the DFB agreed to release Sammer from his contract with the national federation.
DFB President Wolfgang Niersbach said that he had agreed to release his sporting director with a "heavy heart," but that the federation didn't want to stand in the way of Sammer's career plans.
"He did a lot for the development of talent in Germany with his talent and expertise, and he really benefited the federation," Niersbach said.
Due to the lack of silverware over the past couple of years, Nerlinger, who had been appointed to replace former manager Uli Hoeness three years ago almost to the day, had been the focus of criticism for some time.
"On behalf of the club I wish to thank Christian Nerlinger for his work in the last four years at Bayern. I really hope that our good personal relationship continues," Uli Hoeness, now the club's president, said.
Pressure mounts on Heynckes
The appointment of Sammer can also be expected to increase the pressure on Bayern's head coach, Jupp Heynckes. There has already been widespread media speculation that Bayern have their sights set on hiring the former, long-time Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola as soon as next summer.
In Sammer, Bayern now have another experienced coach, who could, theoretically step into that role, if the team's Bundesliga campaign falters. Sammer, now 44, became the youngest-ever coach to win a Bundesliga title, when he won the championship with Borussia Dortmund in 2002. He also had a spell as bench boss at another of his former clubs, Stuttgart.
pfd/sej (SID, dpa, AP)