YOKOHAMA – Hertha Berlin's general manager Michael Preetz claims he was left with "no other choice" but to relieve coach Markus Babbel of his duties after a war of words between the pair had escalated.
Babbel was dismissed on Sunday after announcing his intention to leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season.
However, it was the way in which Babbel broke what he suggested was an imposed silence that forced Preetz to end his working relationship six months earlier than planned, and just 48 hours before the club's final appointment of the year in the DFB-Pokal.
"A continuing, faithful co-operation just was no longer possible," Preetz is quoted by the dpa agency to have said at a press conference.
"It is my job to protect Hertha from damage and there was simply no more trust there."
Babbel claimed he had informed Preetz of his decision not to extend his contract in November, but Preetz said he was only actually given the news last Tuesday.
As soon as the final whistle was blown at the end of Berlin's 1-1 draw with Hoffenheim on Saturday, another battle commenced, between Babbel and Preetz.
"I have not said the truth for six weeks for the sake of this club and that is not very comfortable and I don't really like doing that," said Babbel.
"I always did what I was told. I gave my notice at the start of November during the international break."
Preetz disagreed immediately, saying Babbel's remarks were "completely false".
Babbel responded to Preetz this morning after leading his final training session, saying he "maybe did not hear me right", but Preetz said there was no way he had misinterpreted Babbel's words.
"When such an important thing is being discussed, then I definitely tune in," he said, earning the backing of his club's president Werner Gegenbauer, who branded Babbel a liar.
"That is disappointing because I respect him," said Babbel.
"I cannot accept it when I am being portrayed as a liar."
Gegenbauer replied: "Some people seem to think I am too stupid to speak for myself. This is not over yet."
Indeed, it was far from over.
Shortly afterwards, Babbel was shown the door with his assistant coach Rainer Widmayer placed in temporary charge for Wednesday's cup tie with Kaiserslautern.
"The development over the past two days, which have culminated in me being branded a liar several times, leave me and Hertha no other choice," explained Preetz.
Former Bayer Leverkusen and Eintracht Frankfurt coach Michael Skibbe is expected to be appointed as Babbel's replacement, but Preetz could not verify reports he had already met with the current Eskisehirspor coach.
"I cannot confirm that we are in negotiations, but I can confirm that we are giving thought to who will take over," said Preetz at the end of a turbulent 24 hours.
Finding a new coach is the least of Berlin's problems, though.
"We need to restore the damaged credibility," said Gegenbauer. "We need to find a solution which promises us sporting success."