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Football: Grasshoppers introduce new manager – again

Hans-Peter Zaugg (archive) Keystone

Hans-Peter Zaugg, has been named manager of Grasshoppers Zurich, after leaving his post as caretaker manager of the Swiss national side.

Problems on and off the pitch have dogged Grasshoppers of late – Zaugg is the club’s fourth managerial appointment within a year and replaces the Englishman, Roy Hodgson.

Hodgson arrived last year amid high hopes but left last month after differences with the board and a disappointing season. The club finished just fourth in the national league and, having failed to shine in the Cup, will miss out on European competition next season.

This makes Zaugg’s appointment all the more remarkable. It’s his first managerial job at club level, though he has been involved with the national team for the last eight years. He’s been the assistant coach under a series of national team managers and has been keeping the managerial seat warm since the beginning of the year. But Zaugg is relishing the challenge of taking over at Grasshoppers.

“It’s a great change for me to be with a club,” he says. “With the national team I had players every month and it will be so different to work with players every day. I hope it will be a very good year at Grasshoppers.”

Zaugg wasn’t Grasshoppers’ first choice for the position but emerged as the frontrunner after Marcel Koller and Andy Egli withdrew from the race. This makes many commentators sceptical of Zaugg’s chances but club officials are sure they’ve found the right man.

“We’re very confident we’ve found someone who’s very stable and who shows a lot of enthusiasm and optimism,” insists club president, Peter Widmer, “We will lend him all the support it takes to make this a long-term solution.”

The politics of Zaugg’s appointment will soon be forgotten as attention turns back to the football field. Grasshoppers say they want to develop homegrown Swiss talent but that won’t prevent the club entering the transfer market to bring some experience to a young team.

“We’ll start training on June 22nd,” says Zaugg, “I have to make some transfers and find good midfield players.”

Zaugg has two or three names in mind and hopes to begin negotiations in the next few weeks. But sensibly he’s playing down expectations for the coming season.

“It’s not very realistic to say we’ll be champions. We’ll do our best but it’s not so easy to win the championship.”

by Michael Hollingdale

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR