Relegation-threatened Cologne have moved swiftly in their search for a new head coach. The Rhineland club have agreed terms with second division side Holstein Kiel’s Markus Anfang on a three-year-deal.
The 43-year-old, who is to take over from Stefan Ruthenbeck in the summer, first grabbed headlines when he guided Kiel to promotion to Germany's second tier for the first time in 36 years.
In the current campaign, the nothern-German side is in with a chance of securing unprecedented back-to-back promotions as they currently sit in third, in the second division, just four points shy of league leaders Fortuna Düsseldorf.
Armin Veh delighted
"Markus Anfang is a coach, who leaves a recognizable imprint on a side during his time working with them," explained sporting director Armin Veh said in a statement on the club's website to announce the move.
"He has proven as much during his time with Kiel. Right now in the second half of the season, he's demonstrated that he can work successfully under difficult conditions and rarely loses his composure. We're pleased to have reached a reasonable and fair agreement with Holstein Kiel," Veh concluded.
Cologne can still mathematically secure their Bundesliga status for next season, but in Anfang they have a coach who has proven himself in the second tier and is well aware of what football means to the city.
"I'm a Kölner," said Anfang. "So no one needs to explain to me what it means to work with these fans for this incredible club, which boasts great tradition. Irrespective of the division."
"Love doesn't know leagues" - A fitting sentiment with Cologne rooted to the foot of the Bundesliga.
Anfang was first connected to the club in light of Peter Stöger's departure back in December and the rumours persisted in spite of Kiel taking a hard stance during the winter break.
When asked about his style of coaching, Anfang admitted "I can be your best friend or a tough old dog, my aim is to be a mix of friend, father and authoritarian".
Given their current plight, Cologne made need more of the autoritarian and less of the friend. The Cathedral City side are staring relegation in the face less than a year after ending their 25-year absence from the European stage. It has been an alarming fall from grace, but a homegrown hero could be just what the club needs in their time of need.