I promised to provide you with some extra information about as many opponents as possible so here we are again, introducing another guest writer. This time it’s Sébastien, the man behind the German-English blog Positionsspiel (follow on Twitter) and a FCB fan from Luxembourg. In case you’re wondering why I have a Bayern fan write about Wolfsburg, it’s not as easy to find Wolfsburg fans as you might think. So if you don’t know more about that team than Felix Magath, VW and the famous medicine balls, read this great piece! If you do, you better read it anyway.
Like a phoenix from the ashes?
Before the 2:3 defeat in the German Cup against RB Leipzig, Felix Magath was sure that his team would be very uniform and he had also noticed a new team spirit. But soon his team brought him back to earth. It seemed that his players had forgotten everything they had trained in the pre-season. No effort, no joy of playing, no team spirit; nothing!
Magath was shocked. And when Felix Magath is shocked and disappointed, he has no mercy. He let his players show up at the training ground only five and a half hours after the disgrace in Leipzig and announced changes.
Basically, during the pre-season, Magath wanted to make the fans, the players and (most important!) the VW group forget the 15th place of the previous year. To accomplish this, he wanted to feature the team and not single players. Put another way, Magath uses the principle that has made him to one of the best managers in Germany, probably even in Europe: The manager is the star. Thanks to this motto, he won the championship with Wolfsburg in 2009 and reached an awesome second place with Schalke 04 during his first season in the Ruhr Valley.
To refund the trust that was placed in him by the investor, the Volkswagen group, he didn‘t spend much money. Why?
On the one hand, Magath knows that his investors and friends have already spent a lot of money during the two seasons he was away. In 2009/2010 Wolfsburg spend 27,5 million euros for players (Ziani, Rever, Johnson, Obafemi Martins, Kahlenberg) that never made the breakthrough. Then, in 2010/2011 Volkswagen spent 55 million euros! It stands to reason that they didn‘t want to buy too expensive players after two really disappointing seasons.
On the other hand, Magath likes to forward young players. He actually won the championship in 2009 with many young players as for instance Edin Dzeko. For the next two years (his contract ends in 2013) he wants to train young, developable and ambitious players. He does think that every player was dispensable.
Well, Magath did only spend 16,5 million Euros for four players. Altogether six new players have joined his team so far. Srdjan Lakic (K‘lautern) and Hasan Salihamidzic (Juventus) came on a free. Christian Träsch (VFB Stuttgart), probably the most important new player cost 9 million. Marco Russ and Patrick Ochs (both Frankfurt) came for 3 million each. Mateusz Klich (MKS Cracovia) was the cheapest of Magath‘s new signings and cost 1,5 million euro.
After the elimination of the German cup, Magath announced new players and by extension new rumours were in circulation. His investors are ready to spend some more money because they don‘t wanna be the laughingstock for another season. As Magath was complaining about the bad conversion of chances by his strikers Mandzukic and Lakic, it was rumored that Magath wanted to buy Papiss Demba Cissé from SC Freiburg who has scored 29 times in 49 matches in the German championship, for 12 million. But Freiburg wants 17 million euros and it seems that Magath will buy the Senegalese despite Patrick Helmes‘ great performance last week-end against Cologne when he scored twice.
The defeat against RB Leipzig didn‘t only reveal that the strikers aren‘t good enough for Magath but also showed that his team suffers a lack of creativity. In the pre-season Magath had already tried to fight against this huge problem and let Ja-Cheol Koo and Tuncay Sanli play on the ,,ten“ but they couldn‘t convince him and Mateusz Klich isn‘t strong enough for the Bundesliga at the moment. So Magath‘s looking for a new Misimovic. He has already casted an eye at Milan Badelj (Dinamo Zagreb), a 22-year-young Croatian international (nominated twice) and at Niko Kranjcar (Tottenham). Both are great talents but rather expensive. For each of them, Magath has to pay at least 10 million euros. There were rumors that ,,Quälix“ was also interested in Marko Marin (Bremen) but the German international is rather a winger and quite expensive.
Magath should also buy two new defenders because Simon Kjaer and Marco Russ aren‘t self-assured at all and might pose a risk to Magath‘s goals. People say he was interested in Daniel van Buyten but I don‘t think so because for one thing Bayern won‘t let the Belgian go and for another thing Magath still has players like Madlung or Friedrich sitting on the bench.
Thanks to the defeat against Leipzig, Magath recognized that his favorite tactics, the diamond formation wasn‘t the right one for his team. He decided to play with two defensively-minded midfielders, Josue and Träsch. Magath still has quite a big problem, though. He cannot play in the 4-2-3-1 because he has no good player on the ten and in the 4-4-2 he has no creative wingers. Hasebe and Ochs are rather workers than virtuosi. Träsch doesn‘t want to play on the wing, neither wants Mandzukic and Tuncay isn‘t good enough for Magath. Probably Magath will try the 4-4-2 till he‘s bought Badelj or Kranjcar.
It‘s difficult to say how Wolfsburg will play during the new season. It could be that they reach the Euro League but they could also finish on the 10th place. There‘s a huge lack of creativity in comparison to the other clubs who want to reach the Euro League as well. HSV, Stuttgart and Bremen have more creative and better players in the offensive. But if Magath manages to be evocative of team spirit, Wolfsburg could be the (pleasant?) surprise of the new season and accomplish Magath‘s goal; the international competition.