Money sometimes misses the mark. Before this season, VfL Wolfsburg invested around 50 million euros in a squad that had just qualified for the Champions League.
Hertha BSC even received around 375 million from its investor Lars Windhorst in the years 2019 to 2021. Nevertheless, only table 14 will play this Saturday (3:30 p.m. / Sky). against the 13th table when both clubs meet in the Bundesliga. It is a crisis duel that shouldn’t really exist on this scale if the formula “money scores goals” really applied everywhere and at all times.
The big difference between the two clubs is that the Berliners have been looking for stability and the right strategy for years. Contrary to all hopes, the current squad is also just playing against relegation because six different coaches and three sports directors have been tweaking it since 2019. Wolfsburg, on the other hand, had everything that Hertha aspired to in terms of sport until last summer. But the hunger for success, the footballing identity and an almost blind understanding on the pitch have almost completely disappeared in a breathtakingly short time of just a few months. And it is this “free fall” (sports director Jörg Schmadtke) that makes the situation in Wolfsburg even more dangerous than in Berlin.
Schmadtke trusts in Kohfeldt
Because after the disappointing start of the second half of the season in Bochum (0:1) and the eighth competitive defeat in a row, the future of coach Florian Kohfeldt, who was only hired at the end of October, is foreseeable again, even if Schmadtke would like to continue with the long-standing Werder coach want to work together. “The trust is there,” said the Managing Director Sport of the German Press Agency. “I see how he works. I see how he interacts with the team week after week and what content he installs. However, we all know that there comes a point where things are difficult to maintain. But we are still a long way from that point . The conviction still outweighs the current picture.”
The hope in Wolfsburg is to get back on track, especially in the next home games against Hertha and bottom of the table SpVgg Greuther Fürth. But what dynamics such a crash can get is known better than in the Volkswagen city at hardly any other Bundesliga location. In the years following the German championship in 2009 and the DFB Cup victory in 2015, VfL almost ended up in the second division. This club is apparently particularly susceptible to a certain saturation or a drop in tension in the team.
There are several explanations for the slump this season, said Schmadtke. “But I don’t want to spread it publicly.” One reason is that Kohfeldt’s predecessor Mark van Bommel wanted to break so radically with the formula for success of ex-coach Oliver Glasner. A slouch in the dressing room is “at least one factor that shouldn’t be completely ignored,” confirmed the sporting director.
Question marks behind personnel decisions
In retrospect, it was a mistake to keep the squad together after three successful years instead of giving new impetus. “It’s a bit like naming Saturday’s lottery numbers on Sunday, but I’ll face the discussion,” said Schmadtke. “We made decisions in the summer that were made with the utmost conviction and that had the thought that we would keep a homogeneous, strongly performance-oriented group that wants to take the next step. From today’s perspective, you can put a question mark behind it.”
In Wolfsburg, as in Berlin, it has long been clear that this season it’s all about staying in the Bundesliga. Not more. Before the Hertha game, VfL sports director Marcel Schäfer was asked whether the missed squad changes would be made up for in the summer. His answer was: “It’s too early to think about summer now. That would misjudge the situation.”