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Big Bundesliga Clubs Resolve Coaching Issues Early

Less than two weeks since the end of the 2007-8 campaign, there's already been a flurry of coaching appointments. Two familiar faces are back in the Bundesliga, while Leverkusen and Hamburg try something new.

Dortmund and Leverkusen players battling for ball

Dortmund and Leverkusen didn't do their old coaches any favors

Leverkusen didn't waste much time replacing Michael Skibbe, who was axed last week after the promising side fell apart late in the season and missed out on international competition.

The new man at the helm is Bruno Labbadia, a former German national and the only person in history to score one hundred or more goals in both second- and first-division German football.

Bayer Leverkusen Bruno Labbadia smiles at a press conference in Leverkusen

Labbadia is looking for goals -- lots of them

Labbadia comes form second-division Greuther Fuerth, and Leverkusen fans can expect the same sort of attacking soccer for which he was known as a player. But if the members of the squad think next season will be all fun and games, they should think again.

"I don't like to get too familiar with players," Labbadia said at the press conference where his appointment was made official. "I want to be near them but still keep my distance."

His goal will be to get Leverkusen back among the top five. If he fails, not only could his tenure be brief -- it might also cost Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Völler his job.

Dortmund Get Klopp

Juergen Klopp coach of Mainz celebrates

Klopp may get a bit hot under the collar at Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund have gone for a very different sort of coach, Jürgen Klopp.

Klopp spent seven years -- three of them in the first division -- at Mainz, where his approachability and boyish passion for the game made him both a fan and a player favorite.

Getting the tiny Rhineland club to be competitive in the top flight was certainly an achievement, and Klopp is now charged with reviving Dortmund after a moribund league campaign.

But "Kloppo," as he's affectionately known, faces arguably the toughest test in Bundesliga coaching, dealing with Dortmund's often chaotic management and the huge expectations of its legions of fans.

That was a challenge to which Klopp's equally gregarious predecessor Thomas Doll ultimately proved unequal.

Jol Heads Hamburg

Martin Jol grimaces

Bada Bing -- Martin Jol is coming to Hamburg

Hamburg were fairly pleased with their fourth-place finish last season but needed a replacement for coach Huub Stevens, who's returning to the Netherlands for personal reasons.

And the Northern German club decided double Dutch was the way to go, enticing former Tottenham coach Martin Jol to the banks of the River Elbe.

Jol had a fairly successful spell with Spurs, and since his nickname is "Tony Soprano," after the US TV character, there should be no let-up in intensity.

Jol has said he need only "five minutes to consider" before taking the job. But his fate in Hamburg, however, may depend on another of his compatriots -- star playmaker Raffael Van der Vaart, who's entering the final year of his contract and has tried to force a move before.

If Van der Vaart departs, Jol may find himself without the firepower needed to keep Hamburg in the top five.

Daum Finally Decides

Christoph down has beer poured on his head

Daum's hair was full of legal drugs after Cologne got promoted

Meanwhile Cologne are relieved that they don't need a new coach. After much hemming and hawing, Christoph Daum announced this week that he would stay on at the newly promoted club.

His most immediate task will be to keep the three-time German champions, who have been relegated four times in eleven years, in the top flight.

There's no doubting Daum's credentials. In 2000, he was literally a hair's breadth away from becoming Germany's national coach -- his appointment was cancelled at the last minute, after a drugs test on a hair sample confirmed rumors that he used cocaine.

And he's created negative headlines again this summer after making homophobic remarks in the TV documentary.

August will tell how much such distractions have affected Cologne's efforts to finally establish some much-needed stability.

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