Uwe Rösler is charged with keeping Bundesliga cellar dwellers Fortuna Düsseldorf from the drop. - © getty
Uwe Rösler is charged with keeping Bundesliga cellar dwellers Fortuna Düsseldorf from the drop. - © getty

Former Manchester City striker Uwe Rösler succeeds Friedhelm Funkel as Fortuna Düsseldorf coach

Fortuna Düsseldorf have moved quickly to replace head coach Friedhelm Funkel, naming Uwe Rösler as his successor on a deal through to 30 June 2021.

Fortuna parted ways with long-serving coach Funkel on 29 January, with the Rhineland side three points adrift of safety at the bottom of the standings, following a run of one win, two draws and six defeats.

Rösler, who has coached in Norway and England, was in charge of Malmo until stepping down at the turn of the year.

The 51-year-old oversaw third-placed and runners-up finishes in the Swedish Allsvenskan, with the club also reaching the UEFA Europa League knockout rounds in back-to-back seasons for the first time in their history.

He is perhaps best known, however, for his 50-goal stint as a player for Manchester City in the 1990s.

"I've followed Uwe Rösler's career for many years," said sporting director Lutz Pfannestiel. "He was very successful at Malmo, and is about aggressive football. It wasn't a decision against Friedhelm Funkel, but rather one for Uwe Rösler."

Rösler will have 15 matches to rescue Fortuna's season, starting with Saturday's home game against Eintracht Frankfurt.

The former striker - who scored 23 goals in 138 appearances in Germany's top two divisions for Borussia Berlin, Nuremberg and Kaiserslautern, but has never coached in Germany - is optimistic he can keep Die Flingeraner afloat.

"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."

Friedhelm Funkel experienced highs and lows with Düsseldorf. - 2018 DFL

Rösler's predecessor, Funkel, took over at Düsseldorf in March 2016. The club were flirting with the relegation places in Bundesliga 2 at the time, but beat the drop and were celebrating promotion to the Bundesliga - as Second Division champions - less than 18 months later.

Back in the big time following a five-year absence, Fortuna finished 10th, memorably drawing 3-3 with defending champions Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena and ending Borussia Dortmund's 16-match unbeaten start to 2018/19.

This season, however, they have recorded just four wins.

"We all knew our second season back in the Bundesliga would be very difficult, and that we'd be in a relegation battle," explained Pfannenstiel. "We haven't picked up enough points so far this season.

"We have the tamest attack with only 18 goals scored and the third-worst defence with 40 conceded. The current status quo does not lead us to believe we can stay up. That's why we've had to react. It's not easy because Friedhelm Funkel has done so much for the club. We'll be eternally grateful to him."

Funkel oversaw 138 competitive matches all told, and at 66 was the oldest coach in the Bundesliga. He announced after his dismissal that he would retire from coaching.