Soccer

Stuttgart sacks coach Bruno Labbadia

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STUTTGART, Germany (AP)

Stuttgart fired coach Bruno Labbadia on Monday after four straight losses to start the season and appointed former player Thomas Schneider as his successor.

The 40-year-old Schneider has been coaching Stuttgart's Under-17 team since 2011. His first match in charge of the Bundesliga club will be Thursday's return leg of the Europa League qualifying tie against Rijeka of Croatia.

''I am looking forward to the job and I am very confident,'' Schneider said after signing a two-year contract.

Director of sports Fredi Bobic said the club was sure it was making the right move.

Labbadia's firing came a day after Stuttgart lost 2-1 in Augsburg to remain bottom of the standings without a point after three matches of the Bundesliga season. Stuttgart also lost the away leg of the Europa League qualifier to Rijeka 2-1.

Labbadia took over Stuttgart in December 2010 and managed to guide the club away from the relegation zone. Stuttgart also reached the final of the German Cup last season, losing 3-2 to Bayern Munich.

Reaching the final was enough for Stuttgart to seal a place in the qualifying rounds for the Europa League because Bayern had also won the Bundesliga title.

Labbadia was the first Bundesliga coach to be fired this season but others are also already feeling the heat, including Jens Keller at Schalke and Thorsten Fink at Hamburger SV.

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