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Union Berlin hire Bjelica in bid to turn season around

Anadolu / Getty

Bundesliga club Union Berlin on Sunday named Nenad Bjelica as head coach to replace the departed Urs Fischer.

Union finished fourth last season but are wallowing in the relegation zone with just seven points from 12 games. 

"Union is a very well-run club in one of Europe's top leagues" the 52-year-old Croatian said in a statement released by the club. 

"My job is to lead the team out of a difficult period and showcase their strengths again."

After a playing career in Germany, Spain, Austria and his native Croatia, Bjelica began his coaching career. 

Bjelica took Austrian third-division side Wolfsburg AC to the Bundesliga, before taking Austria Vienna to the group stage of the Champions League for the first time ever. 

As coach of Dynamo Zagreb, Bjelica won the Croatian league, cup and supercup.  

In five-and-a-half years under Fischer, Union won a first-ever promotion to the top division and within four seasons was playing Champions League football. 

The Swiss coach however left by mutual agreement earlier in November, with the club sitting dead last on the table after a winless run of 14 games. 

"I am convinced that Nenad Bjelica, with his many years of experience as a player and a coach, is a good fit for our team" said sporting director Oliver Ruhnert. 

"We have gained an experienced coach who has worked successfully in various countries" club president Dirk Zingler said in a statement. 

Union drew 1-1 at home with Augsburg on Saturday to pick up the club's first point in the league since August and drag themselves off the bottom of the table. 

Union take on Braga on Wednesday in the Champions League. 

Despite being eliminated from the knockout rounds, Union can still qualify for the Europa League by finishing third in their group. 

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