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The Toe Poke

Stuttgart vow to stick by Markus Babbel for now

VfB Stuttgart have told coach Markus Babbel he will stay on at least until the winter break despite a disappointing first full season in charge.

Babbel took over late last year and steered Stuttgart to a surprise third-place finish and a Champions League spot, but his team are currently second from bottom of the standings. They were crushed 4-0 at leaders Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday, leaving them with only two wins in 14 matches.

Stuttgart sports director Horst Heldt was furious with their first-half performance at Leverkusen when they trailed 2-0, telling reporters all 11 players should be taken off the pitch, but club president Erwin Staudt has reassured Babbel it will not cost him his job.

"The 0-4 in Leverkusen is still in our bones and that will have consequences," he told reporters, "but these consequences will not be to sacrifice a coaching team that is fully committed."

Stuttgart can still reach the Champions League knockout stage with a home win over Romania's Unirea Urziceni next week.


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