Friedhelm Funkel is back at Cologne, tasked with retaining the Billy Goats' place in the Bundesliga. - © DFL/Getty Images/Alexander Scheuber
Friedhelm Funkel is back at Cologne, tasked with retaining the Billy Goats' place in the Bundesliga. - © DFL/Getty Images/Alexander Scheuber
bundesliga

Friedhelm Funkel replaces Markus Gisdol as Cologne head coach

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Friedhelm Funkel has been named Cologne head coach, replacing the recently dismissed Markus Gisdol on a deal through to the end of the season.

Gisdol was shown the door hours after Sunday's 3-2 defeat to Mainz, with Cologne second bottom of the Bundesliga table going into their final six games of the 2020/21 campaign.

"Friedhelm doesn't just have a lot of experience, but he's someone who can be relied on in these kind of situations," said Cologne sporting director Horst Heldt. "He'll be in charge until the end of the season, with the goal of staying up."

Funkel, who was Cologne coach between February 2002 and October 2003, has been out of work since his four-year stint at regional rivals Fortuna Düsseldorf came to an end on 29 January 2020.

The Billy Goats travel to Rhineland neighbours Bayer Leverkusen on Matchday 29, before facing RB Leipzig (h), Augsburg (a), Freiburg (h), Hertha Berlin (a) and Schalke (h). They are 10 points clear of rock-bottom Schalke, but only three behind Arminia Bielefeld and Hertha in the relegation play-off and 15th place respectively.

"I have followed Cologne with real interest in recent weeks, and had a good talk with Horst," explained 67-year-old Funkel. "The team's played well recently, without being rewarded for their efforts. The lads need to put in the same effort to get the points we need to stay in the Bundesliga. I'm confident we can do it."