Babbel future unclear following cup exit

BERLIN - VfB Stuttgart coach Markus Babbel's future at the club was unclear on Tuesday after their surprise German Cup exit against second division Greuther Fuerth.

Stuttgart, one of the pre-season Bundesliga favourites, have been disappointing so far, lying in 14th place in the league. Babbel, in his first full season in charge and still studying for his coaching licence, is under mounting pressure.

"We now have five straight defeats," he told reporters after their 1-0 loss to Fuerth. "This is bitter and a very difficult situation and it is not getting easier.

"I do not know what the club's position is regarding myself."

Stuttgart publicly backed him after their 1-0 defeat by Hanover 96 in the league on Saturday.

The former Bayern Munich and Liverpool defender took over midway through last season to steer the club to a surprise third place finish and a Champions League spot.

But this season, with top striker Mario Gomez joining Bayern, Stuttgart have been disappointing, collecting only eight points from 10 games in the league.

They are third in their Champions League group with two points from three matches after a 3-1 home defeat by Sevilla last week.