Two days after parting company with Torsten Frings, SV Darmstadt 98 have confirmed the return of Dirk Schuster as their head coach.
Former Germany international Frings was fired on Saturday after an alarming run of form saw the Lilies drop into the bottom three of the 2. Bundesliga.
Schuster, who left Darmstadt in June 2016 for FC Augsburg, has signed a contract until the summer of 2019.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss
The 49-year-old was originally in charge of the club for three-and-a-half years, memorably taking a side that only survived 3. Liga relegation after being reprieved, straight to promotion via a play-off against Arminia Bielefeld in his first full season of charge, before leading them to automatic Bundesliga promotion at the first attempt and then keeping them there.
He left to replace Markus Weinzierl at Augsburg the following summer but the move didn’t work out well for all parties. Schuster lasted just five months at the WWK-Arena before being replaced by Manuel Baum, whilst first Norbert Meier and then Frings failed to retain Darmstadt’s Bundesliga status.
Despite a promising return to life in the opening weeks of their 2. Bundesliga return, they are now in deep strife having failed to win in 11 matches, and have turned back to their greatest manager of recent times.
Rüdiger Fritsch, club president, explained that Schuster knows “the club, the structures and the environment very well”, and added that “his attitude and conceptional approach fit in” with the club. Schuster himself is naturally looking forward to his return and said he and his coaching staff “will do our very best to master the big challenge” that faces them “with hard work”.
His team will consist of assistants Sascha Franz and Frank Steinmetz, who also return having followed Schuster to Augsburg, plus Kai Peter Schmitz and Dimo Wache who had remained after Schuster's original departure. They have one game in charge, a relegation face-off at SpVgg Greuther Fürth, before the winter break.
Dramatic collapse in form after promising start for Frings
Frings’s departure at the weekend came as little surprise, with the 1-0 defeat in the snow at Erzgebirge Aue a sixth defeat in their 11-game winless streak, leaving them third bottom of the table, just a point ahead of Fürth after they won against 1. FC Heidenheim the following day.
It had all started so well for the former Werder Bremen midfielder. He helped to reinvigorate the side in their battle against Bundesliga relegation, confirmation of which they staved off with three consecutive wins before their fate was confirmed by a defeat to champions Bayern Munich.
This season had started brightly too, with four wins in their opening six games seeing Darmstadt in second place and looking well set to challenge for an immediate return to the top flight. However they had not won since beating Arminia Bielefeld 4-3 in a thriller in the middle of September, leaving Frings’s position looking increasingly untenable.
Fritsch said in the statement released by the club on Saturday that it was not an easy decision as they “greatly appreciate Torsten Frings professionally and personally,” but that results had demanded they carried out “this painful step.” His assistant Björn Müller was also released.
Quotes via SV Darmstadt 98.