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Hitzfeld ‘turned down Man Utd’

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By Andrew Tuft

Friday 20 June 2014

Switzerland Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has revealed he turned down the chance to manage Manchester United in 2002 due to concerns over the language barrier, the Daily Telegraph has reported.

Ottmar Hitzfeld

Hitzfeld, who won the Champions League with both Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, is due to vacate the Swiss post and retire from management after the World Cup. He has told the Telegraph that he could have succeeded Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford but declined to do so.

“I don’t want to go into too many details because it was between myself and Manchester United,” he said. “But I decided to stay in Germany because, when I am coaching I prefer to express myself in German because this is my mother tongue.

“I did not think I would be able to do myself justice if I had to speak to the players in English. I would not be able to get my emotions and feelings across,” the 65-year-old continued. “The players in the Swiss dressing room speak a variety of languages, including Italian, French and English, but when they come to work, I coach them in German.

“All the players understand it. If there are some special expressions required then one of my coaches might use a bit of Italian or French, but I coach them only in German and it is better that way.

“As long as you are successful and winning matches the language is no problem at all. But when the results are insufficient, the difficulties begin. At this time, a coach needs to go into more detail with his instructions and that’s where the problems can lie.”

Hitzfeld took over at Dortmund in 1991 and remained for six years, winning the Champions League in his final season at the club, taking over for the first time at Bayern a year later. He spent six years with the Bavarians and later returned for a seventh year between 2007 and 2008, winning five Bundesliga titles and the Champions League in 2001.

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