Wolfsburg have to be the disappointment of the Bundesliga season so far, and nothing sums that up better than today’s 1-3 loss to Cottbus in the DFB Pokal. While injuries and low confidence will take their toll on any side throughout what is an arduous league season, the kind of form Wolfsburg are on is just unacceptable, and even Steve McClaren has seemingly given up.
The former England national team manager, who rebuilt his reputation in Holland with FC Twente after failing to qualify for the European Championships in 2008 with England, has got to be on the verge of resignation now. After the match, McClaren spoke to the press:
It was just not good enough today. It was not good enough throughout the whole first half of the season. I am disappointed and frustrated. We have hit bottom. The club needs changes now. No one knows what will happen in the next days.”
The club needs changes? The first change Wolfsburg might make over the winter break is the manager. I don’t think there’s a Wolfsburg fan around, or even a Bundesliga fan in general, who thinks McClaren is the right choice to take this team to the end of the season.
There isn’t a lack of quality in the squad, so it isn’t like they aren’t getting results because they lack the playing staff who can get them those results. They aren’t a team who are without experience, either. They have players in their squad who have won titles, and relatively recent too, when Felix Magath led them to the Bundesliga crown in 2008.
Wolfsburg are winless in eight consecutive matches, and they’ve like a completely disorganized group on the pitch. There’s little if any cohesion in midfield, they’ve had a number of defensive lapses, and their strikers aren’t scoring the goals they should because of a lack of creativity coming from the players behind them. They’ve got a lengthy injury list, but they do have competent back-ups who should be doing a much more encouraging job.
McClaren, who won FC Twente’s first ever Eredivisie title last season, has really done himself all sorts of damage at Wolfsburg. At the start of the season, the English tactician was full of confidence and encouragement. He said himself that he was looking at challenging for a Champions League spot if not the title itself. And now, he’s transformed into that ‘wally with the brolly’ of days gone by.
It looks like a sad end to what could have been such a good thing. Let’s hope McClaren can pick himself up again at another club, and let’s also hope that Wolfsburg can recover from what has been a shocking start to the Bundesliga season for them.