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Hoffenheim coach, boss clash publicly

THE coach and the boss of slumping Hoffenheim are publicly clashing over the future of the Bundesliga club.

Coach Ralf Rangnick is asking for more money for new players, while Dietmar Hopp, the club's financial backer, has responded by saying he would not be "blackmailed."

Hoffenheim took the Bundesliga by storm when the promoted team went to the top of the standings and led at the halfway mark with a fresh, attacking style. But leading striker Vedad Ibisevic had a season-ending knee injury and Hoffenheim has not won in 12 games, plunging to ninth place following a 0-4 loss at Wolfsburg on Saturday.

After the game, Rangnick said he could not "identify with mediocrity."

"I am not ready to accept more setbacks," he said.

Rangnick complained that he had been promised only 10 million euros (US$13 million) for six or seven new players that he wants.

"Quality professionals don't come to Hoffenheim for the good quality of air," Rangnick said.

Hoffenheim, a hamlet of fewer than 3,300 people, is the hometown of Hopp, a billionaire who made his fortune in software. Hopp has poured about 150 million euros (US$198 million) into the club, which jumped from the third to first division in two seasons under Rangnick.

Hopp said Rangnick had wasted money on several players who have proven to be failures. "The ambitions of other people are not going to push me into making breakneck moves," Hopp said. "We are the worst team of the second half of the season. If it goes like this, we'll get relegated next season. We should not be speaking about competing in Europe."


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