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Hamburg sack coach ahead of Fulham clash

Bruno Labbadia has been sacked as coach of Hamburg just three days before the Bundesliga club's most important fixture of the season.

Labbadia was informed of his fate at an emergency club meeting, which was called in response to yesterday's crushing 5-1 defeat to Hoffenheim.

Labbadia leaves after less than 10 months in charge and just days before the club faces Fulham in the second leg of their Europa League semi-final, a game upon which their whole season now depends.

The tie is goalless after the first leg in Germany.

Ricardo Moniz, part of the coaching staff under Labbadia, will take charge for Thursday's return leg and for the remainder of the season.

"We have analysed the situation last night and this morning and decided together that we did not want to continue in this situation," said Hamburg's chairman Bernd Hoffmann.

"Ricardo Moniz will take charge of the team until the end of the season.

"He is incredibly enthusiastic, knows the team and English football well and lives for football."

Yesterday's damaging defeat left Hamburg five points behind sixth-placed Stuttgart, who hold the last European berth with just two games remaining.

Hamburg's best chance of qualifying for Europe next season therefore rests on beating Fulham and going on to lift the Europa League trophy at their own stadium on May 12.

"There was no alternative to this," added Hoffmann. "We need to improve the probability of us being successful on Thursday."

Moniz took charge of today's training session and has Hoffmann's complete faith.

"Anybody who knows Moniz knows also that there is nobody who is more 100% HSV than he is," the chairman continued.

"We believe that Ricardo will be able to get that extra percentage out of us which had disappeared recently."

Labbadia arrived under a cloud last July when he agreed to become Hamburg's coach while still contracted to former club Bayer Leverkusen.

This season started brightly, however, and the arrival of Ruud van Nistelrooy in the winter was taken as an indication that they could challenge for honours.

But a run of just four wins since January has derailed Hamburg's title ambitions, while their European aspirations will also all but evaporate should they fail to win at Craven Cottage later this week.