kicker.de can confirm that VfB Stuttgart have sacked head coach Bruno Labbadia after 3 years in charge of the Bundesliga club.
Stuttgart and Labbadia part ways
Labbadia has reportedly been sacked for a poor start to the 2013/14 season, having gone out of the UEFA Europa League with a 4-3 aggregate defeat to Croatian side HNK Rijeka.
Labbadia had been at the helm for 3 successful years: he saved the club from the relegation that was looking certain at the end of Christian Gross and Jens Keller's disastrous reigns even after winning the Bundesliga in 2007. In the 2011/12 season Labbadia managed to work wonders yet again, leading the side to a fantastic 6th place despite managing just 12th the year before. Stuttgart therefore qualified for the UEFA Europa League of 2012/13 where they were knocked out be SS Lazio in the Round of 16.
Labbadia's final season wasn't quite as successful. The coach signed a new deal at the Gottlieb Daimler Stadion that would keep him at Stuttgart but the club got off to a poor start, and suffered embarrassing defeats to Werder Bremen, and a 6-1 defeat to Bayern München despite having one of the league's top scorers in Bosnian forward Vedad Ibišević who managed an astonishing 15, just 10 behind top scorer Stefan Kiessling. Labbadia's side qualified for the UEFA Europa League once again by reaching the final of the DFB-Pokal, where they lost to Bayern München 3-2 in a tight game. As FC Bayern had already qualified for the UEFA Champions League the UEFA Europa League spot for winning the cup went to Stuttgart.
Labbadia has been sacked after losing 4-3 on aggregate to the Croatian team HNK Rijeka in the Europa League. The Stuttgart chairman Gerd Mäuser resigned in June, with Labbadia still in charge, and was replaced by Bernd Wahler who was elected nearly unanimously. Wahler had previously worked with Adidas and Nike and also played for Stuttgart's youth teams. Despite being a popular appointment among the fans Wahler stirred controversy after sacking Labbadia, with most fans believing it was his decision.
Labbadia departed the club on the 26th of August having gone out of European competition. His 3 years at the helm of Die Roten were over but they were not the first 3 years of his footballing career either. Labbadia was a successful player in the late 1980's and the 1990's. Labbadia came through the youth academy of FSV Schneppenhausen but soon found himself at SV Darmstadt where he played over 100 times before joining Hamburger SV. He stayed there just one year before leaving for 1.FC Kaiserslautern, and it was here where he proved himself to be a top class player, winning the DFB Pokal in 1990 and the Bundesliga in 1991, before leaving for FC Bayern München where he won the league title yet again in 1994. He then spent one season at FC Köln, who he left for SV Werder Bremen. Here he managed a mere 18 goals in 3 seasons, and was promptly sold to Arminia Bielefeld. In 1999 though he proved he still had it by scoring 28 goals for Bielefeld and becoming the top scorer of the Bundesliga 2. He managed a total of 50 at Bielefeld before winding up his career at Karlsruher SC. During his time at Kaiserslautern, Labbadia was even called up for Germany twice.
Management was not new to Labbadia either when he took up the reins in 2010. His managerial career was underway as soon as his playing career wound up. The journey started back where his playing career started, at SV Darmstadt. He took the club up to the Regionalliga Süd in the 2003/04 season, where they stayed until Labbadia's departure in March 2007 to SpVgg Greuther Fürth. Labbadia managed to keep the club in the Bundesliga 2. He sufficiently impressed Bayer 04 Leverkusen who had endured a bad 2007/08 season under Michael Skibbe and subsequently was handed the prestigious job. Labbadia led his side to a fantastic start in the Bundesliga yet by the end of the campaign the team was sorely disappointed as they failed to pick up wins against the top sides and finished in 9th. To add insult to injury, Labbadia's side lost the DFB Pokal final to Werder Bremen, and the boss promptly left for Hamburger SV. He managed his side to a 5th place spot but wasn't able to complete the season after being fired days before the club lost a crucial UEFA Europa League semi final to Fulham. After 5 months of unemployment, Labbadia agreed a deal with Stuttgart.
Following Bruno Labbadia's recent departure, Stuttgart's chairman Bernd Wahler tried to play it down and tell the media that he had made the right decision. He said to Kicker that he would find a better and younger manager who would become the best Germany has ever known. "Bruno Labbadia has done good work at VfB over the past three years but we want to provide fresh impetus with this change. We want to find a top manager and Labbadia is not that, he did not match the club's expectations last year and he had to go. We can find a younger, better manager, and we can become bigger and better than everyone, even FC Bayern." Wahler's bold statement shows intent but Stuttgart have yet to find their new manager and the season is drawing dangerously near. The media have drawn up lists of which managers could be poised to replace Labbadia. The current youth team manager Thomas Schneider is rumoured to be interested, as is Eintracht Braunschweig's Torsten Lieberknecht, and previous Kaiserslautern manager Franco Foda. The favourite however, is the recently sacked HSV manager Thorsten Fink, who is reportedly looking to get back into the game as quickly as possible.
The fans of Stuttgart are disappointed with the drastic reaction to one loss which resulted in Labbadia's sacking and have been seen protesting to the board. However the players have not been so upset and more understanding with Wahler's decision. Keeper Sven Ulreich said to Stuttgart's fanzine that he wants the players to fully back the new manager. "Of course Bruno was a good coach, he stayed at VfB for 3 years. But he didn't have it in him to take us forward, he took us forward in the cups but backwards in the league eventually. Some of the players will miss him, some will be glad to see the back of him. I think everyone should get supporting the new manager, when he arrives. Striker Vedad Ibišević echoes this sentiment. "Yes, Labbadia was a good manager and a good friend. But life goes on, we have a whole new season ahead of us. The new manager will be as the chairman says. Younger, better, and with potential to take us ahead of everyone. But he can't do a thing without our support, so we must get behind him no matter who he is or where he came from. That mentality can take us forward even without a new coach."