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Sports

The sack race: DW assesses the job security of the Bundesliga's coaches

As the Bundesliga takes a well-earned breather, Deutsche Welle looks at the situation surrounding the current Bundesliga coaches and where they stand in the potential unemployment stakes.

Zvonimir Soldo

The "haunted coach" look, once worn by Soldo in Cologne

We've already seen Cologne dismiss Zvonimir Soldo this season and Stuttgart have fired not one but two coaches since August with Christian Gross and Jens Keller paying for the club's horrid form. Here is Deutsche Welle's assessment of how things look for those coaches still gainfully employed.

Safe as Houses

The hugely likeable-slash-massively annoying at times Juergen Klopp must be the safest coach in the Bundesliga this season. He's taken his Borussia Dortmund side to the top of the league and has kept them there with only two league defeats to speak of in the first half of the season. Even if they blow the championship after the restart, Klopp will remain a hero.

If awards for overachievement were handed out in the Bundesliga, there would be a number of hands grabbing for the gong but Mirko Slomka at Hanover probably deserves it more than any other. Hanover were already marked for relegation before the season began, with a team that looked ordinary at best. Slomka has taken them into the Champions League places and has even survived a dip in form to keep pace with the top clubs. The man's done good.

Robin Dutt is one of those few coaches who can operate with a lot less pressure than others. Coaching Freiburg rarely comes with the same amount of expectation afforded the coach at one of the big clubs, so as long as Freiburg stay in the league, he and his employers will be satisfied. But for Freiburg to still be flying high in the top half of the table at Christmas is a testament to this young coach's talents. If he and Freiburg do part company in the future, it will be because bigger jobs have become available.

Mainz's coach Thomas Tuchel

Tuchel strikes the pose that adorned the early sports pages

The toothy roar and nostalgic stubble of Thomas Tuchel adorned more sports pages at the start of the season than all the other coaches put together. His expression of delight (rivalled only, perhaps, by Felix Magath's haunted look) encapsulated the first two months of the campaign as Mainz led the way. They may have gone off the boil but Tuchel has already done more than his employers could've hoped for. He and his team deserve Champions League soccer next season, at the very least.

Jupp Heynckes knows the Bundesliga inside out so it's no surprise that he has found a club that will allow him to build towards future success without the pressure of instant glory. Bayer Leverkusen nearly gave him a dream season last year but faded towards the end. This time, they're keeping pace and playing some lovely stuff at the same time. Given the time to hone this team, Jupp could be the man to end the jinx that hangs over the BayArena.

We've all heard about the village team plucked from obscurity by a visionary owner with billions of euros to back up his dreams, but little is ever said about Ralf Rangnick, the man who gets the Hoffenheim players to perform. The glitter is fading from their story these days only because people now expect them to do well. They are established Bundesliga class. Money may have brought the players to the club but Rangnick has them playing like a team.

Uncertain Future

Thomas Schaaf

Thomas Schaaf: "If I leave now I can still catch my flight"

What's that by the door, Thomas Schaaf? Is that a suitcase we see? It's hard to believe that the coach who has steered Werder Bremen to four cup wins and one championship title in nearly 11 years of service is being spoken of as a potential casualty but Bremen's downward trajectory this season is just the latest trip in a slow fall from grace. If Werder are to recover, a change may have to be made…perhaps not now but in the near future.

A treble-winning coach should have the necessary capital to withstand an ordinary season. At most clubs, this could be true but Louis van Gaal must know by now that Bayern Munich are not just any club. There have already been mutterings from the all-powerful Munich hierarchy about van Gaal's style and with the league campaign not going to plan, it could be suggested that Bayern are falling out of love with the gruff Dutchman. If he delivers the Champions League this year, expect to see him in charge next season. If not…

Felix Magath has had a stay of execution at Schalke. The abominable start the Gelsenkirchen club had put the former Bayern and Wolfsburg coach's rather rotund head on a block but in recent weeks, the Royal Blues have crept to safety and secured a place in the Champions League knock-out round. Magath was always going to be too expensive to fire anyway…

Armin Veh must be wondering what he has got himself into at Hamburg. One of Germany's biggest clubs, he has discovered that these days, HSV's standing is based on past glories and reputations alone. Still, HSV could be a lot worse off and a second half surge in the spring months could see them heading towards Europe. Veh will have at least until the summer to wonder what the hell is going on with Hamburg.

State of Limbo

There are a number of clubs which never expect too much from their coaches. As long as they don't get relegated and try to get as close to the Europa League positions as possible, then they can pretty much expect to keep their names on their office doors. This can be said for Michael Skibbe at Frankfurt, Marco Kurz at Kaiserslautern and Dieter Hecking at Nuremberg. Even Holger Stanislawski at St. Pauli can be relatively sure of staying in charge even if the Hamburg club go down.

Dead Men Walking

Michael Frontzeck

Frontzeck: "If I blind myself then I don't have to watch"

Being the worst team in the league during a season in which Cologne and Stuttgart have made such concerted efforts to claim that title is no mean feat but Michael Frontzeck has achieved this with Borussia Moenchengladbach. If Gladbach were a race horse, we'd be talking about them in the past tense with the smell of gunpowder hanging in the air. The misery will only be over for the team in May. For Frontzeck, the sweet release is likely to come a lot sooner.

Frank Schaefer is praying for more snow to fall on Cologne so he can later claim that the adverse winter conditions contributed to him staying home after the restart. The real reason may turn out to be that his employers just didn't want him back. Cologne are not only in a relegation dogfight but they are showing the uninspiring form of a team that doesn't care. Schaefer looks incapable of rallying his charges and getting the necessary results out of them. There's a reason Christoph Daum's number remains on speed dial at the RheinEnergie Stadium.

If ever there was a poisoned chalice in this year's Bundesliga then it's the one which is now being pressed to Bruno Labbadia's lips at Stuttgart. A club which has contributed two thirds of this season's sackings to date, Labbadia must be wondering when the receptacle he's holding will be tipped. He should savor the moment though - it's likely to be the only cup he gets his hands on this season. With VfB stuck in a self-destructive cycle, who knows whether the Stuttgart hierarchy will stop at just three coaches this year in their search for one who can guide them to safety.

A man who is no stranger to ignominious exits, Steve McClaren will be hoping that the weather will clear soon so he can get out of Wolfsburg as fast as possible when the powers at Volkswagen call time on his short tenure. This week's exit to Energie Cottbus in the German Cup caps a miserable run of form for the first English coach to work in the Bundesliga. His experience may lead to him being the last for some time.

Author: Nick Amies
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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