Former Liverpool centre-back Stephane Henchoz has been given his first job as a head coach at Neuchatel Xamax, the Swiss club announced on Tuesday February 5th.
The 44-year-old, who started his career at Neuchatel, takes over a side struggling to avoid relegation from the Swiss Super League, sitting bottom of the top flight. Neuchatel are in 10th place, with 13 points from 19 games.
The club has fallen a long way off the pace since its peak years of being back-to-back Swiss Super League champion in 1987 and 1988.
"The club management believes that it is necessary to create an electroshock in the team in order to approach the next major deadlines with new energy," Neuchatel Xamas said in a statement.
Stéphane Henchoz remplace Michel Decastel à la tête de Neuchâtel Xamax FCShttps://t.co/odblbhOnXp— Neuchâtel Xamax FCS (@XamaxFCS) February 5, 2019
Henchoz's mandate is to save the club from relegation and keep the club in Switzerland's premier football division, the Raiffeisen Super League. Neuchatel still face tough fixtures against league leaders Young Boys and second-placed Basel.
Henchoz replaces former Switzerland midfielder Michel Decastel, having previously been the assistant coach.
Decastel had managed Neuchatel Xamas since 2015 and the departure seems not have been easy one for the club.
"Michel Decastel was one of the great comeback kings, he is a legend of the club, a friend and an important member of the Xamaxian family. The Neuchâtelois thank him from the bottom of their heart for all he has brought. However, the future of Neuchâtel Xamax FCS takes precedence over all emotional considerations," added the club in its statement.
The former Swiss national Henchoz, who will replace Decastel, played 205 matches in six years for Liverpool after joining the English giants in 1999, winning four major titles, and also made 72 international appearances.
Henchoz retired in 2008 from playing after leaving Blackburn Rovers for a second time.