Bundesliga side Schalke are sticking with Jens Keller, extending the coach's contract until 2015. The decision comes after months of rumors surrounding the future of the club and its leadership.
When Keller took over on an interim basis for sacked Dutchman Huub Stevens on December 16, Schalke were in seventh place. Since then Keller has managed to guide the club that were plunging further and further from Champions League qualification to where they now sit, fourth in the table.
On Saturday the club announced that Keller, the former under-17 coach, would be staying on with a two-year deal.
"We are convinced by his work in that we have seen the team evolve in the past few months," manager Horst Held said. "Facing up to his critics he has stuck firmly and constantly to his line and put Schalke on the right road."
The decision marks an end to months of speculation about who would be at the helm of Schalke next season. Former Chelsea coach Roberto di Matteo and ex-Germany international Steffen Effenberg were linked with the position, along with the trio of current Bundesliga coaches Armin Veh (Eintracht Frankfurt), Christian Streich (Freiburg) and Thomas Tuchel (Mainz).
Supervisory board chairman Clemens Tönnies praised Schalke's turnaround at the hands of the 42-year-old Keller, who has led them to the third-best record in the Bundesliga since the winter break.
"He took charge of the team in a critical situation and developed it very well," Tönnies said.
Prior to joining Schalke last year, Keller spent three years on the coaching staff at Stuttgart, including a 59-day stint as head coach. As a player with Stuttgart, 1860 Munich, Wolfsburg, FC Cologne, and Eintracht Frankfurt he made 142 Bundesliga appearances as well as 115 appearances in the second division.
dr/jlw (AP, AFP, dpa, SID)