- Associated Press - Monday, February 27, 2017

WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) - Wolfsburg hired former assistant coach Andries Jonker as coach on Monday in a bid to save the team from relegation.

The 54-year-old Jonker, who was last working for Arsenal’s youth team, signed a deal to take over with immediate effect until 2018 as Wolfsburg’s third coach of the season.

“Andries Jonker knows Wolfsburg and regularly kept in touch with the club even after his switch to London. Both were decisive factors that allowed us find this top-solution in such a short timeframe,” Wolfsburg sporting director Olaf Rebbe said.

The Dutch coach will take over from Valerien Ismael, who was fired on Sunday. Ismael’s predecessor, Dieter Hecking, was fired seven games into the season.

Volkswagen-backed Wolfsburg, which won the Bundesliga title in 2009, is only two points above the relegation zone after 22 matches. Jonker has 12 league games to turn the club’s season around.

“He is an internationally experienced coach and proven tactician who has the best prerequisites for Wolfsburg to get back on the track to success quickly and sustainably,” Rebbe said.

Jonker previously worked as assistant coach to Louis van Gaal at Bayern Munich, taking over as head coach on an interim basis for five games in 2011 when his compatriot was fired.

At Wolfsburg, Jonker worked under Felix Magath, Lorenz-Guenther Koestner and Hecking. He also had spells in the Netherlands and at Barcelona.

Under Ismael, who took over on an interim basis on Oct. 17 and was made permanent when no better candidates were found, the club slumped to nine losses in 15 league games with only five wins.

There have been five losses in seven games across all competitions since the winter break, despite several additions, including Turkey attacking midfielder Yunus Malli and highly rated Dutch midfielder Riechedly Bazoer, who has played only 45 minutes.

Friday’s 2-1 loss at home to Werder Bremen forced the change, particularly in light of Hecking’s good work at Borussia Moenchengladbach, resurgent in the Bundesliga and through to the last 16 of the Europa League.

Hecking led Wolfsburg to the quarterfinals of the Champions League last year, after claiming the German Cup title and second place in the Bundesliga the year before.

Wolfsburg’s poor season also cost former general manager Klaus Allofs his job. He was asked to leave after the 5-0 loss at home to Bayern Munich in December.

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This story has been corrected to show Borussia Moenchengladbach is through to the last 16 of the Europa League, not the Champions League.

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