BERLIN (Reuters) - Former Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti, sacked in September after a poor start to the season, deserves credit for their title-winning Bundesliga campaign, his successor Jupp Heynckes said on Saturday.
Ancelotti left with his reputation in tatters yet Heynckes said the Italian had played an important role after his side won 4-1 at Augsburg to claim a sixth successive league title on Saturday.
“I’d like to send a greeting to Italy, to Carlo Ancelotti,” said 72-year-old Heynckes, called out of retirement to step in for a fourth stint at the club.
“He looked after the team at the start of the season and I’d like to send heartfelt congratulations for the title. He’s a great coach and a great person.”
Bayern were three points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund when Ancelotti left but ran away with the title under Heynckes, winning 19 out of 22 league matches under his leadership to take the title with five matches to spare.
The Bavarians are now 24 points ahead of Dortmund, who are third.
Heynckes has won four Bundesliga titles as a coach, all with Bayern, and four as a player, all with Borussia Moenchengladbach.
“I have a very fine-tuned coaching team and everyone does an outstanding job,” he said. “This success belongs to everyone. We have a very harmonious dressing-room.”
Bayern are still aiming for the treble and host Sevilla in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday with a 2-1 lead from the first game.
“We won’t celebrate,” said Heynckes. “Everyone can enjoy themselves. For some it’s the eighth (title), like Franck Ribery, for some it’s the first... for me as a player it was the most important title.”
Writing by Brian Homewood in Bern, editing by Pritha Sarkar