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Hörster handed Leverkusen reins

Thomas Hörster has been named as Bayer 04 Leverkusen coach at least until the end of the season.

Successive defeat
The 46-year-old Hörster steps up from the club's Under-21 side to take charge of a team battling to stay in the German 1. Bundesliga after five straight league defeats. The situation is a far cry from last year, when Leverkusen were in title contention until the final day of the season when BV Borussia Dortmund wrested it from them.

Coach of the year
Similar disappointment was experienced in the finals of the German Cup and the UEFA Champions League, where Leverkusen were denied by Real Madrid CF. Despite failing in their three attempts to claim silverware, Toppmöller was named coach of the year in his homeland and was nominated in the uefa.com users' Team of the Year for 2002.

Vote of confidence
Calmund recently gave Toppmöller a vote of confidence but acted to remove him following Saturday's 2-1 home defeat by FC Hansa Rostock. He initially named Hörster as caretaker coach but moved to make the position more secure as the club seeks stability as they strive to avoid relegation.

'A great job'
Only two players - Ulf Kirsten and Rüdiger Vollborn - have made more Leverkusen appearances than Hörster, who played over 330 Bundesliga games for them between 1979 and 1991 - and Calmund has unstinting faith in the new man. "Thomas Hörster will remain as coach for the remainder of the season and we would be happy to continue with him," he said. "He is tough enough and he has got a line that he sticks to."

Minge to assist
As well as appointing Ralf Minge as Hörster's assistant, Calmund also revealed the club were looking for a sporting director and have been in talks with Otto Rehhagel, Greece's national coach. "The sporting director is not responsible for the lineup or the tactics - that is the coach's job," said Calmund.

Newcastle up first
Hörster's first game in charge is tomorrow's UEFA Champions League Group A tie against Newcastle United FC. The club need a win to have any hope of reaching the quarter-finals for the second season in succession after losing their first two second group stage matches.