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Wolfsburg fire Jonker, hire Schmidt


Berlin (AFP) – Andries Jonker became the first Bundesliga head coach to be sacked this season when Wolfsburg replaced him with ex-Mainz boss Martin Schmidt on Monday.

The 50-year-old Schmidt will be thrown straight into action as Wolfsburg host Werder Bremen on Tuesday, then face defending champions Bayern Munich away on Friday in key Bundesliga matches.

“I am very much looking forward to this task, even if there is not much time left to get used to it, since we have two important games in front of us,” said Schmidt ahead of his first training session on Monday night.

The Swiss coach spent seven years at Mainz, where he was promoted to head coach in February 2015, but was dismissed in May after poor results meant the team finished just clear of the relegation places.

Wolfsburg have opted for a quick change in their coaching team, sacking Jonker after just 203 days in charge.

The 54-year-old Jonker took charge in February, when he quit as boss of Arsenal’s youth academy, and managed to keep Wolfsburg up last season after winning a relegation play-off in May.

However, Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at VfB Stuttgart proved to be the last straw.

Jonker’s entire backroom staff, including assistant coach and Arsenal legend Fredrik Ljungberg, have also been fired after taking four points from their first four games this season.

“We have two difficult games ahead of us this week, but we didn’t want to implement a caretaker solution, rather install a new head-coach with immediate effect,” explained director of sport Olaf Rebbe.

A statement by Wolfsburg’s supervisory board said they felt the team’s development had stagnated under Jonker.

“Decisive for us in taking this step was not just the impression made upon us during the game against Stuttgart, but rather based upon the perception of stagnated development amongst the team, which was to a great extent newly formed during the summer,” said Wolfsburg’s board.

“We expressly wish to thank Andries Jonker and his coaching staff, for rescuing VfL’s position in the top-flight at the last minute at the end of last season.”

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