A furious Stale Solbakken has hit out at Cologne after he was replaced as manager of the struggling Bundesliga club.
A statement from Cologne on Thursday revealed Solbakken had been given leave, and replaced by former boss Frank Schaefer, following Tuesday night's 4-0 thumping at Mainz.
Defeat left Cologne, who have nosedived on the back of just one league win in 10 games, a point from safety with a tricky run-in that ends with the visit of Bayern Munich.
The decision to remove Solbakken has, however, infuriated the Norwegian boss who claimed this afternoon that he had in fact been sacked.
''Yes, it's over. I've been sacked, but I can't say anything more than that,'' he told Norwegian station TV2. ''I can't say anything other than that I've been sacked and I'm furious.''
Solbakken's claims were at odds with a statement from the club which indicated he had been placed on leave. Schaefer will take charge ahead of what has become a crucial derby at Champions League-chasing Borussia Monchengladbach on Sunday.
''With four rounds remaining in the season Frank Schaefer will, with immediate effect, take over training the first team until the end of the season,'' the club's statement read. ''He is already preparing them for the derby against Borussia Monchengladbach
''Stale Solbakken is on leave. This decision was made at a general meeting of the board and against the backdrop of the current situation.''
Cologne chairman Werner Wolf claimed the board had been forced to act to try and preserve the club's four-year stay in the top flight.
''Avoiding the relegation of Cologne in this final sprint is the top priority,'' he said. ''With this in mind we must make a decision without any ifs or buts.
''After the game against Mainz the regrettable but inevitable decision to place Stale Solbakken on leave was made. For the sake of continuity we have turned to our former coach (Schaefer).
''Our team needs new impetus in their relegation battle. We thank Frank Schaefer for his willingness in this difficult period, and at such short notice, to take responsibility.''
Schaefer, who will call on Dirk Lottner as his assistant, resigned as Cologne boss towards the end of the season with the club already on course for their 10th-placed finish.
Solbakken, who had been due to take over as Norway boss, was then recruited after Cologne reached an agreement with the Norwegian Football Association.
The 44-year-old's time in charge had been littered with off-field problems in recent months though with Miso Brecko arrested for drink-driving before Slawomir Peszko was this week suspended after being held in police custody following a late night out.
Last week Solbakken took his players away on a two-day camp to try and revive their fortunes, although he ruffled some feathers when he left the club's leading goalscorer for the past four seasons, Milivoje Novakovic, behind along with Kevin Pezzoni, Andrezinho and Petit.