Leverkusen 'calm and optimistic' Alonso will stay

AFP , Thursday 29 Feb 2024

Simon Rolfes, the sporting director of Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen, said Thursday he was "calm and optimistic" coach Xabi Alonso would stay beyond the summer.

Bayer Leverkusen's Spanish head coach Xabi Alonso arrives before the German first-division Bundesliga football match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Mainz 05 in Leverkusen, western Germany on February 23, 2024. Photo: AFP


Alonso has unbeaten Leverkusen on course for a first-ever Bundesliga title, with his side eight points clear of second-placed Bayern Munich with 11 games remaining.

Rolfes -- who made the decision to bring Alonso to the club -- said he did not believe this was the coach's final season at the BayArena.

"The most important thing for managers is that they feel comfortable and have the feeling they are in the right place," Rolfes told the daily Frankfurter Rundschau.

"Xabi has said that many times. That's how he works with his coaching team each day."

Having taken over with Leverkusen hovering near the relegation zone in October 2022, Alonso's turnaround has the Spanish coach in high demand.

Bayern and Liverpool, where Alonso spent time as a player, are reportedly chasing the manager, as both clubs will be looking for new coaches in the summer.

Friday's 2-1 win over Mainz was Leverkusen's 33rd match in a row without defeat in all competitions, setting a new record in German football.

Alonso, who has a contract at Leverkusen which runs until 2026, won the Champions League with both Liverpool and Real Madrid as a player, along with several domestic titles with Bayern.

Rolfes told the newspaper Alonso's skill in management went beyond his appeal as a former great.

"If you are a successful player as a coach, you might have a bonus for the first four weeks. But this will be used up quickly if there is a lack of competence in his main role.

"The players notice this very quickly -- can he do his job or can't he? This question has been very clearly answered.

"Xabi builds a good connection with his players".

Leverkusen play derby rivals Cologne away on Sunday.

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