- Associated Press - Thursday, April 6, 2017

BERLIN (AP) - Since firing its coach for being too defensive, Augsburg has conceded 27 Bundesliga goals and slipped into the relegation zone.

Dirk Schuster and his coaching staff were fired in December after 14 games following a lackluster start to the season. There were only three wins and six losses with 16 goals conceded.

“The way we’re playing has nothing to do with Augsburg, with how we want to see the club,” general manager Stefan Reuter said at the time, when he said their work together was “not compatible.”

But things have gone from bad to worse under former youth coach Manuel Baum, and the club is now very much in danger of returning to the second division for the first time since earning promotion in 2011.

Wednesday’s 3-2 loss at home in a local derby to relegation rival Ingolstadt was the club’s fifth defeat in its last eight games. The side has collected only two points from a possible 15 after five games without a win.

Augsburg is 14 points clear of Darmstadt but Ingolstadt is only four points behind and improving. Mainz is ahead on goal difference, while Hamburger SV and Wolfsburg are both one point clear. With the exception of Darmstadt (six losses in seven games), no team looks like a better candidate for direct relegation than Augsburg.

The club has struggled following the departure of coach Markus Weinzierl for Schalke, though Weinzierl had had a worse start to his tenure than Schuster before finishing two points above the relegation zone in his first season.

Against a side that had never scored more than two Bundesliga goals away from home, Augsburg was three goals down against Ingolstadt inside 70 minutes. But Baum bristled when it was suggested his defense was to blame, only later softening his stance.

“The goals we conceded were individual mistakes and preventable,” the 37-year-old Baum said, highlighting the side’s morale in clawing back two goals. “That’s very positive for the next games.”

Augsburg next faces a tough game on Sunday at Hertha Berlin, counting on its strength at home to bounce back from three straight losses. Then follow games against Cologne, Eintracht Frankfurt, Hamburger SV, Borussia Moenchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund before Augsburg finishes at Champions League-chasing Hoffenheim.

“We shouldn’t lose our nerve,” said Reuter, who isn’t in the mood to fire another coach at such a critical stage in the season.

“I’m not going to make any demands of the coach now. He’s analyzing the games very well and will try to correct mistakes with the team,” said Reuter, who won the World Cup with West Germany in 1990. “We said we would never make it dependent on results.”

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