When one thinks of Wolfsburg we almost immediately think of Volkswagen, a highly reliable, efficient and economic piece of German engineering.
I guess this could also apply to the local team, VfL Wolfsburg who are attempting to overtake the likes of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund by becoming the future powerhouse of German football.
The Wolves’ short term goal this season is to say goodbye to the old Wolfsburg team who have struggled to finish in the top ten in the past few campaigns, by securing a Champions League berth, which would lead the club onto far bigger and better things.
These bigger and better things are part of an illustrative long goal commissioned by the chairman, Francisco Javier Garcia Sanz, who more than anything craves for the club to replicate the 2008/2009 campaign when the Wolves won their first and only Bundesliga crown.
Neither of these goals or talk of such eminent success seemed likely around this time last year when the Volkswagen Arena outfit were lingering three places of the foot of the Bundesliga table, and in serious danger of becoming relegated for the first time in 17 years.
Dieter Hecking was brought in to the club on the eve of the traditional winter break to restore order and discipline to a Wolfsburg side who were themselves oblivious to the chaos around them.
Despite having an aging and a largely incapable squad who seemed more interested in collecting their weekly wages and putting their weary feet up, Hecking was able to steer this nightmare side to an 15th place finish.
Hecking who could be likened to Henry VIII during the 2013 summer transfer window axed and banished a number of high earning names from the club, including the likes of Patrick Helmes, Simon Kjaer and Sotiris Kyrigiakos.
And instead of being relatively tight in comparison to Magath, who was responsible for bringing in players past their best on high earning wages, Hecking broke the bank by spending €30 million on bringing in the likes of Luis Gustavo from Bayern Munich, Timm Klose from FC Nuremberg and Daniel Caligiuri from SC Freiburg to the club.
These signings not only ended years of liberal Wolfsburg spending but also sent a warning out to all the title contenders, that for the first time since the 2008/2009 title winning season, the club meant business.
The start to the season was bumpy to say the least with the Wolves only winning three out of their first eight Bundesliga fixtures, and a 2-0 home defeat against basement club Eintracht Braunschweig saw the storm clouds gather, and aroused prospects of another season of struggle.
However, this shock defeat served as a wake-up call to the club, with Hecking’s side since then going on a nine game unbeaten streak, which has propelled the club into fifth place, only three points behind Borussia Dortmund who currently lie in 3rd.
It can be said that Wolfsburg have gone from a very ordinary and stereotypical Bundesliga side into a team which could arguably overtake Borussia Dortmund and compete with Bayern Munich for the title in a space of less than a year.
Of course going nine games unbeaten in the league doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to become Bundesliga champions overnight, but it seems that the former Nuremberg manager is creating his own empire at the club.
Like Magath who turned Wolfsburg from a mid-table team into league champions, the 49 year old has the facilities, coaching staff and the most vital of ingredients, an extremely talented squad to reach the same heights.
The current squad could be linked to a Volkswagen Golf, fairly cheap in terms of quality, fast in relation to the club’s electric wingers of Perisic and Caligiuri, reliable in terms of a mature back four consisting of Naldo and Marcel Schafer, and best of all a twin turbine engine combining Gustavo and Kevin De Bruyne.
The January purchase of De Bruyne from Chelsea for €20 now means that Gustavo will be able to play a greater role at the back, whilst the Belgian international plays just behind the strike force of Bas Dost and Ivica Olic, the same role once played by Zvjezdan Misimovic.
The only clear difference between this season and the 08/09 season when the Wolves blitzed the Bundesliga is a lack of goals coming from upfront, with the current strike force of Olic, Dost and Stefan Kutschke having only scored a total of ten goals between themselves in every competition so far this season.
Just to put things into perspective, the highly successful partnership of Eden Dzeko and Grafite scored 56 out of the 80 goals scored by the Lower Saxony side in the title winning season.
Wolfsburg have struggled to score enough goals this season with the Greens having only found the net 28 so far this season, coincidently the fewest goals scored by any club in the top five.
In the view it is necessary that Wolfsburg’s pragmatic chairman gives Hecking a bit more money to buy a new strike-force which could mean the difference between a fourth and a second place finish, with an eye on potentially competition with Bayern Munich for the title next season.
However, if the club fall short of their newly set goals it is clear that the future is bright regardless, just look at the 19 year old sensation of Maximilian Arnold.
With just one Bundesliga season under his belt, Arnold has already scored five goals this campaign, and is not only being tipped as Germany’s next Lothar Matthaus, but the leader of a new Wolfsburg empire.
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