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Projecting MLS Cup semis, title winner

Major League Soccer
By ESPN Staff

Slomka named head coach at Schalke 04

BERLIN, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Assistant trainer Mirko Slomka has taken over from Ralf Rangnick as head coach at Schalke 04, the Bundesliga club said on Wednesday.

Schalke dismissed Rangnick last month three days after the coach announced he would be leaving the club at the end of the season.

Slomka, who has been with Schalke since October 2004, will initially coach the club until the end of the season, Schalke said on their website on Wednesday.

'If it works out, we can certainly imagine working with Mirko Slomka beyond June 30, 2006,' team manager Andreas Mueller said in a statement, adding the search for a head coach was definitely over.

Slomka, 38, conducted his first training session on Wednesday morning and will be presented at a news conference in the afternooon.

Rangnick had taken the club to second in the Bundesliga and a place in the German Cup final but appeared to have fallen out with the club's management.

Schalke are currently fourth in the table, 13 points behind leaders Bayern and five behind Werder Bremen in third, the final Champions League qualification spot.

They narrowly failed to reach the knockout stage of the competition this season.

German media had speculated that Schalke were looking to bring in Fenerbahce coach Christoph Daum, Belgian Erik Gerets, now with Galatasaray, or former Dortmund and Stuttgart chief Matthias Sammer.

The most recent reports said Huub Stevens, the Dutchman who led Schalke to UEFA Cup success in 1997, was the favourite.

'We have not even spoken to any of the trainers with whom we've been linked,' Mueller said.

Slomka began his coaching career in 1989 with the youth teams at Hanover 96. He had two years at regional league side Borussia Berlin before returning to Hanover under Rangnick in 2001 and following him to Schalke in October 2004.