New boss Gross sets Stuttgart demands
New Stuttgart coach Christian Gross has warned his players to expect him to "explode'' if they lose any more games by playing badly this season.
Gross was appointed as the club's new coach after they parted company with Markus Babbel on Sunday, and the Swiss has already made it clear to his squad that he will not tolerate anybody not giving 100%.
"I always demand total passion from my players and I have always done so for the 20 years I have been a coach,'' he said. "I am a positively structured person who has few negative feelings. You can lose a game if the opponent is better, but if the opponent was worse, then I explode.''
Gross received a call from Stuttgart on Saturday evening after they had been held 1-1 at home by Bochum. After six months without a job having been relieved of his duties following 10 years at the helm of Basle, the 55-year-old did not need long to consider Stuttgart's offer of an 18-month contract.
"I am delighted to be here,'' he said. "This is an honourable yet very difficult challenge. We have got to rescue what there is to be rescued. I want to get everything out of the players so that the fans will be happy again.''
And there was no time to waste either. Only hours after arriving in Baden-Wurttemberg, Gross had summoned his players for a late evening training session. On Wednesday, Stuttgart need to beat Unirea Urziceni at the Mercedes Benz Arena to book their place in the last 16 of the Champions League and Gross wants to get his reign in charge of the Swabians off on the right foot.
"The very first thing I want to do is win on Wednesday,'' he proclaimed. "I want to get an immediate impression of the players. Of course I know them well, but I want to get to know them better as quickly as possible. I want courageous players and players who give something back to the fans.
"I always work in a performance-related manner and I want to make it clear to the players that they have an important job to do.''
Qualifying for the next round of the Champions League would be the first major achievement, but saving the 2007 Bundesliga champions from relegation is the priority. A run of eight games without a win cost Babbel his job yesterday as the club slumped into the bottom three with two games to go before the midway stage of the season, and president Erwin Staudt admitted the time had come to make a fresh start.
"Up to the summer, we had every reason to be delighted about qualifying for the Champions League and I am very grateful to Markus Babbel and his coaching team for that,'' he said. "But we have not been successful this season despite all of our efforts.
"We wanted to maintain continuity, but there is a limit to everything when your goals are endangered. We reached this point and we could see that yesterday.
"I am now delighted to introduce Christian Gross as our new coach. He stands for success and experience and has shown that he can work with young players. He now wants to prove himself in the Bundesliga and I am sure he will give it everything to lead Stuttgart out of this difficult situation.''
Gross won four Swiss league titles and four Swiss Cups with Basle. He had previously led Grasshoppers to the title in 1995 and 1996 before a spell in charge of Tottenham, whom he led to safety from a similarly precarious situation as the one he now inherits at Stuttgart.