Heynckes' job is safe at Bayern, club insist

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The Independent Online

Bayern Munich issued an angrily worded statement yesterday attacking media speculation that their coach Jupp Heynckes' job was under threat following poor recent results.

"Those in charge of Bayern Munich condemn this outrageous media speculation, which is not based on any facts, in the strongest possible terms," said the Bavarian club in a statement.

"We protest against this type of gossip journalism, which we will examine legally and take action against. Bayern Munich have the fullest trust in Jupp Heynckes and his work."

Bayern, second in the Bundesliga, have dropped seven points behind the leaders Borussia Dortmund with 10 matches to play, after taking only 11 points from a possible 21 since the mid-season break. They also face an uphill struggle in the Champions League next Tuesday after losing 1-0 away to Basle in their first leg of their round-of-16 tie. Bayern's Allianz Arena will host the final, adding to the pressure on the team to go all the way.

Heynckes, 66, returned for a third stint at Bayern this season and was given a two-year contract. He replaced the Dutchman Louis van Gaal, who was fired last April.

In Spain, the football federation (RFEF) has rejected an appeal from Barcelona and given defender Gerard Pique a one-match ban for his red card in last weekend's 3-1 La Liga win over Sporting Gijon.

The RFEF has also given Barça five days to present their case in the face of a formal complaint from the head of the referees' technical committee, over comments made by Pique after Saturday's victory at the Nou Camp.

The Spain international was sent off in the 46th minute, referee Carlos Velasco Caballero showing him a straight red card after he was ruled to have brought down Miguel de las Cuevas on the edge of the Barcelona area. Television replays suggested that it had been a harsh decision.

After the match, Pique was quoted as saying in local media that the referee's decision looked to have been pre-meditated. Pique will miss Barcelona's trip to play struggling Racing Santander on Sunday.

Racing have sacked their coach, Juan Jose Gonzalez, as they seek to boost their chances of avoiding relegation from the top flight.

Gonzalez was appointed from within to replace the Argentine Hector Cuper after he was sacked in November, and was the visible head of a coaching trio which also included Fede Castano and Pablo Pinillos.

"Juan Jose Gonzalez is no longer the coach of Racing," the club said in a statement yesterday. "Until it is decided who will occupy the Racing dugout for the rest of the championship Castano and Pinillos will continue to head up the team."

Racing are 18th in the 20-team standings on 24 points, with 13 matches left to play, and are three points from safety. They are without a win in their last seven games.

The north coast club have been in institutional turmoil since a takeover by an Indian businessman, Ahsan Ali Syed, early last year turned sour, with Racing accusing him of failing to honour his commitments. They went into administration last July with debts of more than €33m (£27.6m).

The former Real Madrid defender and five-time European Cup winner Marcos Alonso Imaz, better known as Marquitos, has died aged 78, the club said in a statement yesterday.

Marquitos signed for Real Madrid from Racing Santander in 1954, joining a team that went on to win the continent's top club competition in the first five years of its existence from 1956 and 1960. Alongside players such as Alfredo Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas and Gento, he also helped them to win five Spanish league titles, a Spanish Cup and the Intercontinental Cup.

He made 228 appearances with the club, until he left in 1963. He also made two appearances for Spain.

Marquitos, whose son and grandson Marcos Alonso, who is at Bolton Wanderers, both became footballers, will be buried in his native Santander today.

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