What now for Jupp Heynckes?

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It’s not entirely over for Jupp Heynckes yet.  He still has one more match left at the helm of Bayern Munich, the final of the German league cup the DFB-Pokal.

With the Champions League title secure and a potential dynasty built at the club he loves, Heynckes is off to ride into the sunset.

But will the horse really go all the way over the horizon and into full blown retirement? Or will his horse eventually turn around, yearning for another go, another challenge?

It’s a question the likes of Real Madrid, PSG, Manchester City, and other high profile clubs with vacancies would like to answer.

Is that what Heynckes would really want? Wouldn’t he be happy to ride off into the success he’s had all over Europe?

The question then begs, is he really retiring? Or is he just “retiring” to make room for Pep Guardiola? If he’s indeed retiring (like he said multiple times before), then why would he come back?

Heynckes has won a huge number of awards during his career.  He’s only the fourth manager in history to win the Champions League with two different clubs.  He’s won seven Bundesliga championships between his player and managerial career.  The German even has a World Cup to his name, as a player with West Germany in 1974.  Overall, Heynckes has managed a whopping 10 clubs: 4 in the Bundesliga, 3 in the Spanish Primera Division, Benfica, and a club from the Canary Islands.

Then again, Heynckes has been the recipient of a ridiculous number of seriously raw deals over the course of his tenures.  Despite winning the Champions League with Real Madrid in 1997-1998 to end a 31 year drought, he was forced out due to a poor domestic season (they finished 4th).  His first stint with Bayern Munich in the early 90’s, his contract was terminated due to a major player selloff after two straight Bundesliga titles, something the then chairman Uli Hoeness described as his “worst mistake ever.”

And now, if he is “retiring” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) rather than retiring, it would be nothing new to Heynckes, and he could most likely be lured to what he would consider a new and significant challenge.  I’m sure a number of high profile clubs would be very, very interested. After all, he’s not only accomplished one of the greatest seasons European soccer has seen, but also has set that club up perfectly for future success.

I’m sure he’d love to finish now, and not face any more scrutiny, something that’s gotten the best of his job security over the years.

But sometimes, the fire just burns.

Whatever happens, what we do know for certain is Heynckes has set the bar really, really high for Guardiola.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia