VfB Stuttgart have named Christian Gross as their new coach after parting company with Markus Babbel and the 37-year-old's assistants, Rainer Widmayer and Alexander Zorniger.
The German outfit have struggled to match the form that saw them claim third spot last term and currently lie third-bottom of the table having picked up just two wins from their opening 15 Bundesliga matches. Following Saturday's disappointing 1-1 draw with fellow strugglers VfL Bochum 1848, the club's management decided to relieve Babbel of his duties.
The Swabians moved quickly to replace their outgoing coach, however, naming former Tottenham Hotspur FC boss Gross as Babbel's successor. The 55-year-old Swiss has plenty of UEFA Champions League experience from his previous role at FC Basel 1893, who he left at the end of last season, and took over his first training session at his new club on Sunday evening.
The top brass at VfB revealed that the decision was not an easy one, particularly in light of the fact that the team had been playing some promising football at times in spite of their league form. Nonetheless, a number of critical mistakes and lack of potency in attack was enough for the board to cut Babbel's reign short after little more than one year in the job.
Gross's first test comes on Wednesday as Stuttgart take on FC Unirea Urziceni at the VfB Arena, requiring victory to progress to the knockout stages of Europe's premier competition. Thomas Hitzlsperger and Zdravko Kuzmanović will both be missing, however, after picking up injuries in Saturday's 1-1 draw against VfL Bochum 1848. Hitzlsperger suffered a torn thoigh muscle and will not play again before the winter break with Kuzmanović expected to miss one week with a similar, but less severe, injury.
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