Ambition, success proving hard to handle for Leipzig

BERLIN (AP) — Leipzig’s ambition prevented Domenico Tedesco from being given the time to address the team’s shaky start to the season despite his role in helping it win its first major title.

Tedesco led Leipzig to win the German Cup last May – its greatest success to date – but paid the price as poor results this season turned worse in the last two games. Leipzig lost 4-0 at Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga last weekend, then 4-1 at home to a weakened Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Tedesco was fired the next day, replaced a day later by former Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Mönchengladbach coach Marco Rose.

Rose’s first games in charge are against his former teams, with a trip to defending Champions League champion Real Madrid in between. They start by hosting Dortmund on Saturday.

“Even if we start with two defeats, I won’t talk in the mixed zone about a crappy beginning,” Leipzig chief executive Oliver Mintzlaff said, referring to his comments while Tedesco was still in charge.

Tedesco is the second coach to be fired by Mintzlaff in nine months after he dismissed American coach Jesse Marsch in December.

The Leipzig CEO is hoping Rose can leave a more lasting impression.

Mintzlaff said he had “no expectations for the three games. We weren’t looking for someone to put out fires, but a coach who could get the quality out of the team.”

Mintzlaff’s job is to ensure Leipzig builds on the success of previous years – qualifying for the lucrative Champions League every season – and eventually potentially challenging Bayern Munich for the German league crown.

The German Cup – Leipzig’s first title since it was founded by energy drink company Red Bull in 2009 – was supposed to be just the start, a marker of progression from which the team was to push for more.

But Mintzlaff suggested the players had grown complacent after winning it. He said a giant replica of the trophy in front of the club building will be dismantled.

“We’re getting rid of the big thing so everyone knows it’s back to our bread-and-butter business again – the Bundesliga, qualifying for the Champions League, trying to win every game. And then we’ll see if we can make it to Berlin again,” Mintzlaff said, referring to the traditional cup final venue.

The club celebrated the title extensively with the participation of the city. Some parents were reportedly unhappy that their children were forced to take part as the club mascot toured schools, day-care centers and other facilities with a replica of the trophy.

Besides complacency, an injury to forward Yussuf Poulsen and Mintzlaff’s own questionable transfers also impeded Tedesco’s ability to get the best from the team. The signing of Hoffenheim defender David Raum was the only arrival specifically requested by Tedesco, while Germany forward Timo Werner hasn’t settled into a changed team since his return from Chelsea.

The Leipzig-born Rose will be expected to do better.

“I know the city, the club, the quality of the squad,” Rose said at his presentation on Thursday. “The structure and people here are great – there’s everything you need and everyone here is a true professional.”


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Ciarán Fahey, The Associated Press