Fortuna Düsseldorf have parted with Friedhelm Funkel. The decision follows a 3-0 loss to Bayer Leverkusen that left the club bottom of the Bundesliga — and 24 hours after he was named Düsseldorf's coach of the year.
The Friedhelm Funkel era at Fortuna Düsseldorf has come to a close after the club announced on Wednesday that the 66-year-old had been relieved of his duties as head coach. The decision comes following Sunday's 3-0 loss to Bayer Leverkusen which left the club propping up the Bundesliga.
"We were all aware that our second year in the Bundesliga would be very difficult and that we'd be in the thick of the relegation battle," said sporting director Lutz Pfannenstiel in a statement on the club's website. "The way the season has unfolded so far has shown us that we haven't managed to get on the road to picking up the points required."
Fortuna's statement had the apt byline of ‘club reacts to the sporting crisis' following a run of form that has seen them pick up just one win in their last nine league outings. "With just 18 goals scored we're tamest frontline and with 40 goals conceded, the third weakest backline in the Bundesliga," continued Pfannenstiel.
However, Funkel's firing marks an abrupt U-turn after the sporting director had been quoted saying "the head coach question hasn't arisen with us” following the defeat to Leverkusen. The 66-year-old, who took over the roll in March 2016 in the second tier, guided the club to Bundesliga promotion for only the second time since the turn of the century in 2018.
After successfully navigating Fortuna's survival bid last season, Funkel was awarded the ‘Coach of the Year' award for the city of Düsseldorf less than 24 hours before being released by the club.
Rösler takes over
With the club in crisis Pfannenstiel wasted no time in sourcing a replacement as Fortuna named Uwe Rösler as the new head coach on a deal lasting until the end of the next season. Having previously caoched in Norway, England and, most recently, Sweden with Malmö FF, the Düsseldorf job will be Rösler's first time taking charge of a Bundesliga side.
"I've been a coach for 16 years, and I believe I have the abilities and energy to, together with the team and coaching staff, keep us up," he said. "Coaching in the Bundesliga has always been a big goal of mine. I've got big boots to fill - Friedhelm made history here - but I want to keep us in this league just as he did. I think we'll need to win at least six games to do so."
Rösler will have the remainder of the season to try and steer Fortuna clear of a return to Germany's second tier, starting with Saturday's visit of Eintracht Frankfurt.