Hörtnagl yields to fan protests

Alfred Hörtnagl has resigned as Rapid Vienna’s executive manager just weeks after thousands of fans demanded his departure.The Tyrolean player informed club bosses yesterday (Thurs) that he would retire from the post as of now, it was announced today. Hörtnagl had been in charge since December 2006.Sport press have praised him for getting Rapid in the black with his transfer strategies. The Green-Whites raked in millions of Euros by selling up-and-coming players who previously made their way into the senior squad after emerging from the club’s youth academy.Rapid also managed to make profits by selling some of their top players like Nikica Jelavic for significantly more than what they had paid for them. The Austrian Bundesliga powerhouse paid less than 500,000 Euros to Belgium side Zulte Waregem to procure the Croat striker’s services in 2008. Rapid who won the Austrian Bundesliga 32 times, more often than any other club – received 10 times this sum from Glasgow Rangers two years later.Hörtnagl has been at odds with Rapid coach Peter Pacult about transfer decisions and other issues. Some newspapers even branded the two former national team players as enemies who hardly ever exchanged a word.Hörtnagl announced today he considered his mission at Rapid “fulfilled”. The ex-FC Tirol midfielder argued the club successfully adopted a philosophy under which young players get prepared for upcoming challenges in professional football. He also praised the club’s performance on the pitch and as far as economic issues were regarded.Only a few weeks ago, thousands of fans of the Green-Whites called on Rudolf Edlinger, the club’s president, to sack both Pacult and Hörtnagl. The majority of Rapid’s supporters remained silent for nearly the whole 90 minutes of the team’s home match against SV Ried (2-0) to show their dissatisfaction earlier this month – apart from chanting slogans against the executive manager and the coach.Rapid announced today that club official Stefan Ebner will preliminary handle Hörtnagl’s agendas. His resignation came on the same day as Rapid’s signing of midfielder Guido Burgstaller from league rivals Magna Wiener Neustadt.Rapid, who most recently won the league in 2008, face ÖFB Cup champions Sturm Graz in an away match tomorrow (kickoff: 6.30pm). Three other matches will take place on the same day before LASK Linz clash with title holders Red Bull Salzburg on Sunday (kickoff: 4pm; live coverage by ORF 1 and Sky).The Austrian Bundesliga table after 26 of 36 rounds:Austria Vienna, 46 pointsSturm Graz, 45Red Bull Salzburg, 42SV Ried, 42Rapid Vienna, 41Magna Wiener Neustadt, 41Wacker Innsbruck, 38Kapfenberg, 29SV Mattersburg, 20LASK Linz, 12