AC Sparta Praha have parted company with coach Jaroslav Hřebík against a backdrop of four successive defeats and dressing-room unrest.
It is the second time the 56-year-old has lost his job with the Prague giants, his previous reign having ended prematurely in 2002. Hřebík returned to the helm in January, replacing fans' favourite František Straka, and led Sparta to the title. However, they have since endured their worst start to a season since 1996, winning three and losing four of their opening eight league games in the Czech First Division.
Moreover, Sunday's 2-1 defeat at FK Teplice, following hot on the heels of the 1-0 UEFA Champions League reverse at Swiss debutants FC Thun in midweek, made it four straight losses for Hřebík’s men – and increased the pressure on a coach who was never universally popular at the Sparta Stadium.
Hřebík had also had problems in the dressing room, with Czech international winger Karel Poborský renouncing the captaincy ten days ago and being loaned to second division SK Dynamo České Budějovice, having questioned the coach's methods. Two other internationals, goalkeeper Jaromír Blažek and midfielder Lukáš Zelenka, were dropped to the bench for the match at Teplice.
'Neither sacking, nor resignation'
Today the club moved to solve the problem, with vice-president Daniel Kretinsky telling a press conference: "We have reached an agreement – it is neither a sacking, nor a resignation." Sparta are expected to unveil a successor by the weekend, with former FC Slovan Liberec coach Stanislav Griga, a Sparta old boy, favourite to take the post.