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Sports

Ex-amateur coaches at Stuttgart, Cologne face uphill battle

In Jens Keller and Frank Schaefer respectively, Stuttgart and Cologne hope that an in-house promotion will turn the tide. But former amateur coaches seldom have long-term success in the Bundesliga.

Frank Schaefer

Frank Schaefer took over Cologne in late October

Cologne's 1-0 victory over Stuttgart on Sunday, which resulted from a disputed penalty, was nothing for the scrapbooks, but for coach Frank Schaefer what mattered were the three points.

"This was the reaction that we wanted and that we worked for," Schaefer, whose side had been destroyed at home by local rivals Moenchengladbach the week before, told reporters after the match.

Replacing an unsuccessful head coach with the coach of a developmental squad is a trick many Bundesliga teams have tried over the years. Promoting someone from inside the organization, so the reasoning, will inspire players with an example of club loyalty and has the advantage that the new man in charge already knows the squad and the environs.

Jens Keller

Keller has steered Stuttgart to two wins, two losses and a draw

Such was the case at Cologne in the mid-1980s, when Christoph Daum rose through the ranks. But does the move usually work? History suggests it usually doesn't. Of the 17 first-division coaches in Germany, only three worked their way up from developmental and youth sides.

There are, however, a few shining exceptions.

The Schaaf scenario

In 1999, Werder Bremen were at a crossroads. It had been five years since their last title, and the northern Germans were battling relegation and had run through a series of coaches, including Felix Magath. The reins were handed over to amateur skipper Thomas Schaaf.

What appeared to be a desperate throw of the dice turned out to be a stroke of personnel genius. Bremen not only survived 1999, but won the German Cup. Schaaf has gone on to become the Bundesliga's longest-standing coach, and Bremen's record of success in the past decade is second only to Bayern Munich's.

Thomas Schaaf

Thomas Schaaf is a hero and icon in Bremen

One key to the turn-around was the appointment of Klaus Allofs as sports director. He not only put together the deals that led to further Bremen titles. He also ensured that Schaaf's position was secure enough for him to do his job.

Thomas Tuchel - who took over Mainz shortly before the start of last season - also fits into the Schaaf mold of a former player working his way up the ranks of a club and having success with the full backing of management.

Jens Keller and Frank Schaefer are Stuttgart and Cologne born-and-bred so the identification factor is there. But they work for powder-keg clubs where coaches are expected to produce immediate results.

And even results, as history shows, don't ensure job security.

The Doll dilemma

Hamburg's head coach Thomas Doll, right, celebrates with scorer Paolo Guerrero

Doll had a mercurial rise and fall in Hamburg

Bundesliga history is littered with stories of amateur coaches being promoted to the first team, only to disappear back into obscurity. Even those who do engineer turnarounds seldom last long.

In October 2004, Thomas Doll, a former forward for Hamburg and coach of its development side, was bumped up after the northern German giants had dropped to last place. He led Hamburg to a place in international competition in 2005.

"Dolly," as he was known, was everybody's darling, but not for long. He was fired early in 2007, after Hamburg had only earned 15 points in 19 matches. Subsequent engagements in Dortmund and Turkey were likewise short-lived. Doll is currently without a job.

The story is similar with Falko Goetz at Hertha Berlin and, to an extent, with Mirko Slomka at Schalke - Slomka was axed even through the average points the Royal Blues earned per game under his tenure was second only to Bayern.

At big clubs with heralded pasts and commensurate expectations, a former amateur coach must struggle with perceptions that he is, perhaps, not really cut of big-league cloth.

Stuttgart are three-time German champions. So are Cologne, and although their last league title came way back in 1978, they think of themselves as part of Germany's footballing elite.

Both Stuttgart and Cologne are in the relegation zone, and Keller and Schaefer will have to make their names in a hurry.

Otherwise, like so many of their predecessors, they'll be quickly shown the door.

Author: Jefferson Chase
Editor: Nancy Isenson

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