Following a disappointing run of results that have taken the club into the lower reaches of the Bundesliga, 1. FC Köln have replaced boss Ståle Solbakken with former coach Frank Schaefer.
Solbakken, who enjoyed a productive five-year tenure at previous team FC København – guiding the Danish outfit into the knockout stage of last season's UEFA Champions League – has been unable to find the same degree of success at the Bundesliga side he joined in the summer.
Following a ten-match sequence in which Köln have managed just one league win and slipped to 16th in the 18-team table, the club have called time on the 44-year-old Norwegian's reign. "Avoiding relegation in the final stage of the season is the only priority," said Werner Wolf, director of Köln's supervisory board. "Parting company with Ståle Solbakken is a regrettable but inevitable step. Our team need a boost for the fight against relegation."
The man chosen to steer the northern German side out of trouble is Schaefer, who enjoyed a fruitful, if brief, spell in charge after taking over from Zvonimir Soldo between October 2010 and April 2011. The 48-year-old stepped down for personal reasons, however, becoming chief scout instead.
"Frank Schaefer proved last season that he can motivate the team to perform at a top level," said Köln chief executive Claus Horstmann. "He knows the players and now has the task of mobilising all our energies so the team can pick up the points required to avoid relegation. He is also very popular with the fans and their support will be much needed in what is a difficult situation."
Köln have four games remaining to preserve their top-flight status, beginning with Sunday's trip to fourth-placed VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach, followed by encounters with VfB Stuttgart, SC Freiburg and, lastly, UEFA Champions League semi-finalists FC Bayern München.
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