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Struggling Düsseldorf fires coach Funkel, hires Rösler

DÜSSELDORF, Germany (AP) — Fortuna Düsseldorf hired Uwe Rösler as coach on Wednesday to replace the fired Friedhelm Funkel after the team slipped to last place in the Bundesliga. The struggling club said the 51-year-old Rösler, who was previously in charge of Swedish club Malmö FF, had signed a deal through June 2021.

Earlier Fortuna said it was reacting to a “sporting crisis” in firing Funkel after a dismal run of six losses in eight league games. The 66-year-old Funkel took over Fortuna in March 2016 and was in charge for 138 competitive games. He saved the club from relegation to the third division, led it to promotion from the second division, and then helped ensure top-flight survival last season.

“We all knew that our second Bundesliga year would be very difficult and that we would be in a fight for survival. The season has shown us, however, that we weren’t able to get the necessary points on the track,” Fortuna sporting director Lutz Pfannenstiel said. “With just 18 goals scored we have the weakest attack, and with 40 conceded we have the third-worst defense in the Bundesliga. That leads us to believe we’re not going to achieve the turnaround in the current constellation. So we had to react at this time.”

Funkel, who had become a club icon at Fortuna and a firm favorite among fans, announced his retirement from soccer. It will be Rösler’s first coaching job in the Bundesliga. He previously coached in Norway and England before taking the Malmö job in June 2018. The former center forward played for Dynamo Dresden, Manchester City — where he had his best spell —Tennis Borussia Berlin, Southampton, and the former East Germany national team.

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