As the German soccer season winds down, the question of who will be the next coach to get the ax is becoming more interesting than who will win the championship.
Even near the table bottom, the troubled Wolfgang Wolf may stay at Kaiserslautern
Even more demanding than the quest to add a new piece of silverware to the club trophy case is the tooth and nail fighting at the bottom of the Bundesliga table.
With six matches left, none of the league's six least successful teams can afford another tick in the loss column, and general managers are calling the coaches into the office to make the point crystal clear.
After just three months in the job, MSV Duisburg coach Jürgen Kohler became the most recent coaching causality in the German top flight this week. Threatened with relegation and winless in their past five matches, Duisburg President Walter Hellmich said he didn't have a choice in letting the trainer go.
Kohler had a lot to scream about in Duisburg
Many reasons for being shown the door
"Jürgen Kohler was one of the best players in Germany in the last century but was unable to create a successful team spirit," he said. "You can't survive in the relegation battle without that."
The 10th coach to sent packing, it may be of little consolation that Hellmich's grounds were purely soccer related. Unlike Kohler's predecessor, Norbert Meier, who, after guiding Duisburg back to the first division, got the boot in December for second-rate results as well as head butting a Cologne player.
Things are looking good for Stuttgart's Armin Veh these days either. After taking over for Giovanni Trapattoni, the Italian maestro who was supposed to lead Stuttgart to the Champions League, nearly two months ago, Veh might want to starting polishing his resume.
Veh knows he'll need a positive result this week against Nuremburg to fight off the naysayers, including Stuttgart club chairman Dieter Hundt, who called the still-coach a "temporary solution."
Veh knows there are rough times ahead for Stuttgart
High expectations come crashing to the ground
"It's not so easy when there is so much unrest in the team," Veh said. "This condition can't continue over the long-term."
Wolfgang Wolf may not want to spend too much time thinking about long-term goals.
At first glance, the Kaiserslautern coach is an obvious choice for a trainer who is likely to be spending next season with a beer in front the TV. Kaiserslautern have booked the fewest points, have worst goal-difference and have generally played poorly over the past few weeks.
Second division despair
But the club, which already sacked Michael Henke at the winter break, could have problems finding a person willing to take on the team if they are relegated -- leaving Wolf with the unenviable, albeit salaried, job of getting the "Red Devils" out of the despair that is second division bus trips across the country for a 90 minute game.
Should a player or coach need more motivation than playing in front of tiny crowds in the mini second division stadiums, a positive attitude can also help push a team out of the last three spots -- at least that's what Mainz 05 coach Jürgen Klopp seems to be hoping.
After a humiliating 3-0 loss to Nuremburg last week, the Pollyanna said he had plenty of reason to look on the bright side.
"My team can't play like such crap two weeks in a row," Klopp said. He can bet his boss will be looking to see that theory proved Saturday against Hanover.
After 13 games without a win, Götz can be glad he only had to fix the pitch for a photo-op
Loss don't automatically mean pink slips
But there is proof, however minimal, that a coach can turn the situation around.
Falko Götz passed on long-assumed title of 10th Bundesliga trainer out the door to Duisburg's Kohler and is currently standing comfortably in the Hertha Berlin coaching box despite the fact that he went 13 straight games without a win.
Then again, his team, now fighting for a UEFA Cup berth, was never in real danger of playing the likes of Kickers Offenbach and 1. FC Saarbrücken in 2007.