Jens Keller has been sacked by 1. FC Nürnberg after they finished in the relegation play-off place.
The 1-1 draw against Holstein Kiel on Sunday, combined with Karlsruhe’s win over Greuther Furth, left Der Club 16th in the final 2. Bundesliga table, with a play-off against the side finishing third in the 3. Liga (or fourth if, as likely, Bayern Munich II finish in the top three).
Academy boss and former head coach Michael Wiesinger has been placed in charge ahead of the two play-off games, to take place on the 7th and 11th July. He will be assisted by U21 head coach Marek Mintel, who also had a spell in caretaker charge after Damir Canadi was sacked in November.
Nürnberg, only relegated from the Bundesliga last season, parted company with Canadi after just 14 games in charge, with Keller appointed a week later. However, he made no tangible improvements to the team, with his points-per-game ratio of 1.10 worse than Canadi’s of 1.21.
Keller won just five matches, with just one of those wins coming in the nine games since the restart. His future had been placed into doubt following their 6-0 defeat to VfB Stuttgart in their penultimate game last weekend, with the announcement on Monday coming as little surprise.
Sporting director Robert Palikuca, whose own position has been placed under much scrutiny, said the decision to relieve Keller, plus assistant coach Thomas Stickroth, of his duties was “anything but easy” due to his “excellent relationship with the team.”
However, the club felt they needed “a new impulse” for the play-off games, with handing control to Wiesinger and Mintal “the only sensible solution.” He added at a press conference following the announcement that the team had “kept falling into the same pattern over and over again and didn’t manage to break it.”
Wiesinger for his part said that he “did not have to think about” accepting responsibility for the team, with the same applying to Mintal. He described the upcoming play-off games as “the most important in the club’s recent history,” with the sole aim of “keeping the club in the league.”
Wiesinger previously managed the club in 2013, after Dieter Hecking left to join VfL Wolfsburg, and guided them to a 10th-placed finish, but he left the following October following a 5-0 defeat to Hamburger SV, with Der Club ultimately relegated that season. He returned in his current role in charge of the academy last year.
Mintal, who spent eight years playing for Nürnberg, has been part of the youth set up for seven years, with responsibility for the second team this season following a spell as first team assistant to Boris Schommers last year. His one game in interim charge in November ended in a 5-1 defeat to Arminia Bielefeld.
Wiesinger also confirmed at the press conference that all players who are out of contract or on loan have had their deals, which had been due to expire this week, extended to cover the period of the play-off games. These include the likes of Patrick Erras, Mikael Ishak and on loan Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos.