Munich (Germany) (AFP) - Bayern Munich manager Jupp Heynckes caused a stir on Friday when hinting that he may not after all quit the German giants at the end of the season.
"I never said that I'd be stopping on June 30," the 72-year-old said.
The wily and highly respected coach who has transformed Bayern's fortunes since taking over from Carlo Ancelotti has been repeatedly asked about his future plans over the past few months.
And each time he has replied irritably that he has a contract until the end of June and "there nothing else to add."
And in a recent interview he suggested that as a septuagenarian, energy, or lack of it, was becoming an issue.
"I'm going to turn 73 in May, and I'm going to continue to carry out work like this? It's incredibly intensive, and I say in all honesty, it's costing me a huge amount in terms of quality of life."
Heynckes' attitude has led the Bayern Munich board to believe he had made his decision to leave, especially as he has left his wife and beloved dog, Cando, at his home, 700 kilometres from Munich where he has been putting up in a hotel.
Yet he has never actually publicly uttered the words: "I will be leaving this job on June 30."
Tackled on the issue again at Friday's press conference, Heynckes replied frostily: "I've never said that I'd be definitely stopping on June 30. You've heard me say that? No!"
He has spoken in glowing terms about Thomas Tuchel, the 44-year-old ex-coach of Borussia Dortmund, comments which some have taken as an endorsement of a successor.
But he threw doubt on that too, telling two Munich-based newspapers: "I spoke of a possible replacement. I didn't speak about the date of the succession."
Despite his advanced years, Heynckes is living a dream as he guides Bayern to what looks certain to be a sixth consecutive Bundesliga title.
Bayern have won 24 of their 26 matches since he took over from Ancelotti last October.
They are in the driving seat to qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals too, and are still in the German Cup.
The only triple in the Bayern's history was in 2013, under their then manager -- Jupp Heynckes.
Irrespective of Heynckes' future Bayern took steps to assure the continued presence of their young international defender Joshua Kimmich, who has signed a new deal tying him to the club until 2023.