Winter break: VfL Wolfsburg

12th Place

Grade: D

The VWs have been one of the more intriguing teams in the Bundesliga over the past few seasons. In 2009, they sensationally won the title, as Felix Magath put together a fine attacking team. Next season under Armin Veh, they still played exciting attacking soccer, but finished in the upper mid-table, and remained ambitious. Veh was dumped, and Englishman Steve McClaren was brought in. However, the talent was fleeing for greener pastures, as stellar players like Grafite and Edin Dzeko left and McClaren had no clue on how to coach in the Bundesliga, dumping talents like Obafemi Martins to further weaken his attack. Disaster was barely averted as Magath returned and relegation barely avoided. But the return of wonderman Magath has been anything but a wonder, as Wolfsburg has struggled and Felix threatens to go amok…

One of the problems since the Championship year has been that the VWs can’t score enough, because the defense gives up goals in bunches. This season shows that quite dramatically, as the attack is mid range, but the defense has allowed more goals than anybody but last place Freiburg.

Goalkeeping is one of the few bright spots. Swiss international Diego Benaglio has been decent, although he’s missed a couple of games and his replacement was a disaster.

The defense is what teh Germans might call a Hühnerhaufen (loosly translated as a mob of chickens, more acurately headless chickens). German international (not much longer after this display) Marcel Schäfer and Alexander Madlung have been the least sucky. Felix Magath dumped Wolfsburg’s high transfer flop Simon Kjaer off to Roma but his replacement Greek veteran Sotirios Kyrgiakos has been a disaster. Most of the other guys tried are unknown and should remain so.

The midfield has been even worse, if you can believe that. Brazilian Josué, such a key player in the Championship, has completely lost his way and stunk. Ex-Bayern star Hasan Salihamidzic came back from Italy and has demonstrated he’s past sell date. German international and captain Christian Träsch needs to be kicked off Joggi Löw’s squad. The least sucky has been Ashkan Dejagah, which isn’t saying much. Usually reliable players like Thomas Hitzlsperger have been so terrible, it’s not even funny.

The attack was once the pride and joy, but is pretty pathetic. Croatian Mario Mandzukic came alive last season as Wolfsburg avoided relegation. He’s continued to score (8), but does little else. However, I guess you can say at least he’s delivered. Patrick Helmes was once considered a major talent, but has gone backwards and is apparently in the dog-house. Ex-Kaiserslautern hero Srjdan Lakic has been worthless, and the others are young nobodies.

Felix Magath was the miracle worker, but in typical fashion, he wears out his welcome. He left Wolfsburg after the title, probably because he knew it was only downhill from then. Instead, off to Schalke, and a decent start. But by the second season, he almost got the Blues relegated, feuding with players and management. The VWs hoped to get the magic back, but he’s been ranting and raving like a lunatic.

So what are Wolfsburg’s prospects? Well they are roughly mid-table, and there are several teams that appear crappier. So they shouldn’t get relegated. But Felix could go off the deep end and this team could implode. So I wouldn’t rule out a relegation tussle just yet.

 

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