Football: Bonhof's challenge

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The Independent Online
RAINER BONHOF, the former West German international midfielder, said after being appointed coach of struggling Borussia Monchengladbach yesterday that he was convinced the club would avoid relegation from the Bundesliga.

"A ship that has sunk will not resurface - but Borussia has not," said Bonhof, who replaced the sacked Friedel Rausch. "I will do everything to make it sail in quiet waters again."

Monchengladbach, currently bottom of the Bundesliga, announced they had parted company with not only Rausch, their coach, but also their general manager, Rolf Russmann.

The pair had come under fire after the club, remembered for winning five German titles and lifting the Uefa Cup twice in the 1970s, made a disastrous start to the season. "The current situation is a disaster, which leaves no room for a wait-and-see policy," the club president, Wilfried Jacobs, said.

Rausch's fate appeared to be sealed after his team were crushed 7-1 at VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday. Borussia, who had lost 8-2 to Bayer Leverkusen the previous weekend, have conceded 15 goals in their last two games. They have lost their last six matches and have only won once in 11 games.

Rausch, 58, was appointed last April when the side were also fighting to avoid relegation. "Our league position is critical but not lethal," said Bonhof, who played 231 matches for Monchengladbach from 1970 to 1978. "I am convinced that we will manage to stay up."

Monchengladbach have remained in the First Division since they were promoted in 1965. Bonhof, 46, was offered a contract running until June 2000. A member of Germany's 1974 World Cup-winning team, he joined the German Football Federation in 1990 as an assistant to the former national coach, Berti Vogts.