Markus Weinzierl is the new coach at VfB. His mission: “refreshing football”. The choice makes sense. But Stuttgart’s real problems remain unsolved.
The separation of VfB Stuttgart from Tayfun Korkut on Sunday was hardly surprising. That was not so much because the coach’s record of five points after seven match days was actually weak. It was because VfB almost always announces a change of coach in late summer or early autumn. 14 coaches have sat on the VfB bench since 2008 – only HSV has worn out more.
This fluctuation is a problem for the Swabians. Especially since in the past ten years a coach rarely had a similar game idea as his predecessor. But the even bigger problem is the high standard.
President Wolfgang Dietrich in particular has repeatedly formulated goals in the past that were not realistic, and last May he spoke of the upper third of the table that VfB wanted to achieve in the future. But that doesn’t change the fact that this squad, which was spiced up by the new shareholder Daimler with many millions last summer, should at least have a single-digit position in the table. But at the latest, when defensive pope Korkut played with eight defensively oriented pros at the table last in Hanover, he had infected the players with his fear. The VfB lost 1:3, Korkut had to leave.
Now comes coach number 15, Markus Weinzierl. The fact that the 43-year-old, who last trained Schalke, must feel himself to be number two behind his dream candidate Ralph Hasenhüttl is not to be blamed on anyone. It would have been negligent not to ask someone with Hasenhüttl’s profile. He had led RB Leipzig to the runner-up spot at the vice championship in 2017 and is regarded as a very good tactician.
Even the fact that Weinzierl was without a job for 15 months is no reason for criticism. In contrast to some other coaches, who in their desperation after two months accept every offer without commitment, Weinzierl waited until something came along that suited him and his demands, which, incidentally, are only slightly lower than those of Hasenhüttel.
Michael Reschke, Sports Director, formulated the target for the new team as follows: “It’s about playing a bit more refreshing, more aggressive and more dangerous. But that’s what it’s all about before the season starts. The fact that Reschke believed Korkut could play this kind of football at the time and that his contract was extended to 2020 without necessity is one of the mistakes the eloquent Rhinelander has to make. After all, Korkut had always been concerned about stability at his previous professional stations. Reschke could have known that this would not fit. In 2017 Sloty opened and brought good gaming experience to their players.
There are some indications, however, that the Swabians have dealt more extensively with Weinzierl than they had done with Korkut before. The weak switching play was recognized as one of the main reasons for table place 18. But Weinzierl implemented this so firmly during his time in Augsburg that since then it has become the distinguishing mark of every Augsburg team (except for the one under the misunderstanding of Dirk Schuster).
Mario Gomez Honours
- Bundesliga: 2006–07
- Bundesliga: 2009–10, 2012–13
- DFB-Pokal: 2009–10, 2012–13
- DFL-Supercup: 2010, 2012
- UEFA Champions League: 2012–13
- Süper Lig: 2015–16
- FIFA World Cup Third Place: 2010
- UEFA European Championship runner-up: 2008
- German Footballer of the Year: 2007
- DFB-Pokal Top Goalscorer: 2007–08 (6 goals), 2012–13 (4 goals)
- Bundesliga Top Goalscorer (28 goals): 2010–11
- UEFA Euro Co-Top Goalscorer (3 goals): 2012
- Coppa Italia Co-Top Goalscorer (4 goals): 2014–15
- Süper Lig Top Goalscorer (26 goals): 2015–16
No speed on the outside, a six in the centre
It is questionable, however, whether Weinzierl will be able to make his mark in Stuttgart with the consequence that he could do so a few kilometres to the east. Despite all the individual quality, the VfB squad is lacking speed on the outer lanes, an intelligent sixth is not to be seen, no team has played so few passes into the top of the striker so far, where Mario Gomez, Anastasios Donis and Nicolás González are actually well staffed.
Nevertheless, VfB, who have a strong attacking side, should soon be better off. On the one hand, Weinzierl will probably be allowed to go shopping again in winter. And on the other hand, he is a coach who, although he didn’t allow Schalke or Augsburg to play harakiri, doesn’t panic if a team that can play football really does play football – instead of just defending it. This can only do VfB good.