Terry Duffelen
Sun 6 December 2009

Bundesbag Week 15 - Babbel sacked and replaced by Christian Gross

At the risk of sounding disparaging, a test tube baby constructed from the essence of Bill Shankly, Rinus Michels and Sepp Herberger could have failed at Tottenham in the late 1990's. Here was a club that was so desperate they ended up hiring the hated George Graham. Even so, mention the name Christian Gross in Blighty and you'll find Tottenham supporters groaning at the memory of his ill fated spell as Spurs manager in 1997 and everyone else laughing up their sleeve.

Nevertheless, Gross' subsequent record as manager as FC Basel is more than admirable. In the ten years he spent in charge he guided the club to four Swiss Championships and as many Swiss Cups. However, as new coach of Stuttgart, he has his work cut out for him.

After only last week insisting the now ex-coach Markus Babbel had until the start of the winter break to turn The Red's season around, he was sacked almost immediately after an unsatisfactory 1-1 draw with the slowly improving Bochum. According to Bild, a large group of fans assembled outside the stadium demanding Babbel's head or face the consequences. The board were obviously unwilling to find out what those consequences when and a promising coaching career is now in jeopardy after just over a year in charge.

If I recall, Babbel was given the job after a spell as a caretaker. He didn't have his full licence. I suppose the lesson is not to promote a coach too soon despite early promise. At any rate, the Bundesbag wishes him well and looks forward to seeing how Gross fares againstUrziceni in the Champions League this week.

Babbel's predecessor, Armin Vey is having a sticky time at Wolfsburg right now. The Champions have conceded two goals in the last four matches. The last two matches have resulted in 2-2 draws. Last week it was a late equaliser that cost them a a win against Bremen. This week, they had to scramble a leveller late in the game to salvage a point against Freiburg. While the Wolves are scoring plenty at the other end, their defensive frailties are threatening to undermine their season. On Tuesday they face Manchester United in the Champions League needing to win to get through. If the Red Devils are in any sort of mood to score goals, this could be a most entertaining match.

Meanwhile, Werder Bremen have gone 23 games without defeat after the weekend. This statistic may be a shade more impressive if they'd managed to convert some of those draws into wins. Case in point, yesterday's tedious 0-0 draw at Koln which the Bundesbag had the misfortune to watch. Thomas Schaaf's men became ensnared in the Billy Goat's defence and were unable to take advantage of Leverkusen's failure to beat Hannover on Saturday. Instead the Bayer club remain top with a three point gap.

Elsewhere, Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp celebrated his 50th win as a coach against Saturday. Nurnberg were the obliging victims in a 4-0 (gerd) mullering. Hamburg and Hoffenheim couldn't find away past each other and their match finished goalless. Things got pretty tasty in the derby game between Frankfurt and Mainz. Chadlj Amri was sent off for Mainz and his team mate Aristide Bance got into a scrap with Frankfurt's Mike Franz who got his name on the score sheet and put himself about a bit. Looking forward to seeing that on the highlights.

Finally, last week the Bundesbag humbly pointed out that the return of Ivica Olic to the Bayern side has restored some balance to the team. Well judging by the boos at the Allianz on Friday when the Croatian was substituted in the game against the much improved Monchengladbach, the fans seem to agree. Having said that, his replacement Arjen Robben won the free kick for Holger Badstuber to score his first goal of the season and win what looked an entertaining match 2-1. That's two consecutive wins for the Bavarians. A couple more like that and Louis van Gaal can look forward to a relatively stress free Winter Break. Especially if the Munich club can overcome Juventus on Tuesday and get out of their Champions League group against the odds.

That's it. Results and tables here.

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