Peter Stoeger was finally sacked as Cologne coach on Sunday, ending his 1,634-days reign with the club bottom of the Bundesliga and winless after a disastrous run of results.
Although Cologne earned a 2-2 draw at Schalke on Saturday, denying the hosts the chance to go second in the Bundesliga, it emerged Stoeger knew it was his last game following discussions on Friday.
He doffed his cap at visiting fans after the final whistle at the Veltins Arena in a farewell gesture with the team 11 points from safety.
“On Friday, it was clear that the game at Schalke would be our last. To be able to focus on this important game, we decided only to communicate that on Sunday,” said Stoeger on behalf of his coaching team.
Cologne have just three points and are winless after their first 14 games as the club’s bosses took the long-anticipated step of releasing Stoeger.
“We have felt in the past few days that we need to part ways, regardless of the outcome at Schalke it was important for Peter to make a clean cut,” said Cologne’s CEO Alexander Wehrle.
“I refuse to talk about the second league at this point.
“There are still 20 league matches to play and it is our responsibility to attain the maximum out of what remains.”
The club’s Under-19 coach Stefan Ruthenbeck is now in charge until the end of the year.
The 45-year-old Ruthenbeck will oversee Thursday’s Europa League match at Red Star Belgrade, where a win will see Cologne qualify for the knock-out stages.