Borussia Dortmund have relieved Peter Bosz of his duties as head coach after Matchday 15's 2-1 defeat to Werder Bremen stretched their winless Bundesliga run to eight matches. Former Cologne boss Peter Stöger has been brought in on a short-term deal in the Dutchman's stead.
Bosz was appointed in the summer after a successful spell at Ajax, whom he led to the UEFA Europa League final in 2016/17. Life in the Bundesliga started perfectly for the 54-year-old, as Dortmund won six of their first seven games to go five points clear at the top of the Bundesliga table.
The wheels rapidly came off for Die Schwarzgelben thereafter, however. A 4-2 loss at Hannover on Matchday 10 was followed by a home defeat to Bayern Munich in Der Klassiker and a 4-4 draw with derby rivals Schalke in which Dortmund contrived to let a four-goal lead slip.
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Furthermore, BVB also struggled in the UEFA Champions League, losing home and away to both Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur and finishing third in the group with just two points from six matches.
Speaking to the media to present Stöger as the new coach until the end of the season, sporting director Michael Zorc and CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke both expressed their thanks to Bosz for his efforts at the club, admitting that it was a "tough decision to let him go because we could see the hard work he was putting in to turn things around." However, Watzke made it clear that seventh place was not good enough and that it showed something had gone wrong, which according to Zorc made the decision "inevitable."
As for Stöger's arrival until the summer, the Austrian admitted that the appointment was a surprise. "I flew back home to Vienna from Cologne yesterday, and in the evening received a call from Dortmund asking if I wanted to take over as coach. It was a surprise to me, but I felt they really wanted me to take on this challenge because they needed help. And it meant this morning I was on a plane to Dortmund."
While the idea of taking charge at Germany's largest stadium was a major appeal for Stöger, and the former Cologne boss wished to thank Dortmund for coming to him, the 51-year-old was especially thankful that BVB had looked at his entire time at Cologne, instead of this season in isolation. "I know I only won three points this season, but Dortmund have remembered the previous years of success I had at the club."
Those successes included promotion to the Bundesliga and last year qualifying for the UEFA Europa League - the Billy Goats' first European foray in a quarter of a century. It is also what Borussia looked at most, Zorc admitted: "He developed a team in Cologne and brought stability to them. That is what we've been lacking most of all lately. We can play great, attacking football but we need defensive stability. We hope Peter can bring that to us for the remaining games before the winter break and then push on for the remainder of the season."
Watch: Stöger: "I would have signed on for 14 days!"
Things have moved so quickly for Stöger with Dortmund that he had not actually signed his contract with the club at the time of his unveiling. That deal will run until the end of the season, and Watzke wished to clarify that "nothing is set in stone" and that an extension is always possible. However, the CEO was unwavering on the comments he made at the club's AGM a few weeks ago that Dortmund's minimum aim for season remains to qualify for the Champions League.
Dortmund and Stöger end 2017 with league matches against Mainz and Hoffenheim, before a trip to Munich to face Bayern in round three of the DFB Cup on 20 December.