Stuttgart stick with Babbel... for now

BERLIN - Former Liverpool defender Markus Babbel will stay on as VfB Stuttgart coach at least until the winter break despite a disappointing first full season in charge, the Bundesliga club said on Tuesday.

Babbel took over late last year and steered Stuttgart to a surprise third-place finish and a Champions League spot but his team are currently second from bottom of the standings.

They were crushed 4-0 at leaders Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday, leaving them with only two wins in 14 matches.

"The 0-4 in Leverkusen is still in our bones and that will have consequences," club president Erwin Staudt told reporters. "But these consequences will not be to sacrifice a coaching team that is fully committed," he said.

Stuttgart sports director Horst Heldt was furious with their first-half performance at Leverkusen when they trailed 2-0, telling reporters all 11 players should be taken off the pitch.

Stuttgart can still reach the Champions League knockout stage with a home win over Romania's Unirea Urziceni next week.