Andries Jonker will take charge of Bayern Munich for the first time when they host Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga on Sunday.Jonker has agreed to stand in for the final five matches of the season following the sacking of head coach Louis van Gaal last Sunday.
Van Gaal was scheduled to leave the club at the end of the season, but his departure was abruptly brought forward after a disappointing 1-1 draw at Nuremberg that saw the team slide to fourth in the table.
“I have a very close relationship with Louis van Gaal,” Jonkers said.
“It’s a weird feeling, I’m not happy. We were hugely successful for one season but now the group, the staff, is falling apart. It’s disappointing.”
“It was a difficult question for me because we’d worked so intensively together for such a long time.”
“If he were in my shoes, he would take the job. That was very important to me. He also insisted that we would remain friends. After that I decided to accept the offer from Bayern.”
Ironically, Jonkers’ first match in charge comes against second-placed Leverkusen.
They are led by Jupp Heynckes, the man set to take over permanently at the Allianz Arena next season.
The match is vital for both teams, with Leverkusen needing to close the five-point gap on league leaders Borussia Dortmund if they are to have any hope of an unlikely upset in the title race.
Dortmund will look to defend their position at home to Freiburg, also on Sunday.
Bayern meanwhile are one point behind third-placed Hannover, who occupy the coveted final Champions League qualification berth.
Hannover can increase the gap to four points ahead of Bayern’s match when they visit Hamburg a day earlier on Saturday.
Elsewhere on Saturday, second-last St Pauli travel to third bottom Wolfsburg in a crucial relegation showdown.
The teams are level on 28 points, two adrift of safety, with Wolfsburg ahead on goal difference.
Werder Bremen are at home to Champions League semi-finalists Schalke, Hoffenheim host Eintracht Frankfurt and Nuremberg visit Kaiserslautern.
Stuttgart, two points clear of the relegation zone in 15th place, have a vital match away to mid-table Cologne.
In the first fixture of the round on Friday, bottom club Borussia Monchengladbach – four points off safety – travel to fifth-placed Mainz.