By: Corey Schultz
After an impressive 2008/2009 campaign which saw the Wolves claim their
first Bundesliga title in club history, in the process matching the longest winning streak in a single season with 10 consecutive victories and becoming the only team in the league to have had two strikers score more than 20 goals each (Grafite 28, Dzeko 26) Wolfsburg qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in their history. Everything was looking up for the team that had been a second/third division side up until 1997.
However the 2009/2010 season proved to be a disappointing campaign for the green and white. After the loss of their manager, Felix Magath to Schalke for undisclosed monetary reasons the club hired former German footballer Armin Veh, who led Stuttgart to the title in 2007. After a dismal first half of the season which saw the Wolves sitting in tenth position in the league,
Armin Veh was sacked for lack of success. This form carried over to their Champions League debut. The club finished third in their group with seven points behind Manchester United and CSKA Moscow respectively. Unable to qualify for the knockout round, the club automatically qualified for the round of 32 of the Europa League where they eventually lost to finalists Fulham in the quarter final round. Wolfsburg were unable to fight their way back after such a dismal first half of the season, finishing in eighth position, therefore unable to qualify for any European tournament. The one bright spot to the season was that Bosnian striker, Edin Dzeko, had won the top scorers honors in the Bundesliga with a tally of 23 goals. [picappgallerysingle id=”9388359″]
With rumors circulating that top goal scorer Dzeko was unhappy after a dismal
campaign and would relish the fact to play in a bigger market, particularly Juventus, and saw the team from Turin sign one of the Bundesliga’s biggest offensive talents the season before (Diego). Something needed to be done and quickly!
On May 11, 2010 the Wolves ended some of the skepticism by making one the of boldest manager moves in Bundesliga history. The head coaching position was
filled by former England, Middlesbrough, and most recently FC Twente manager Steve McClaren. After having guided Twente to their first ever Eredivisie title, the Englishman was given the honor of becoming the first ever English coach to manage a Bundesliga Mannschaft (team). So far he has not disappointed. McClaren has boldly stated that he has Champions League aspirations for Die Wolfe this season and with such an experienced manager at the helm Wolfsburg fans are confident that Mr. Mclaren will be able make this dream come true.
Fans concerned about the clubs transfer position, activities and the effects
they will have on the make up of the club can be put to rest. With eight wins out of eleven pre season matches, the manager seems to be moving in the right direction. Wolfsburg have made quite a few signings this year, none more important than that of Arne Friedrich from Hertha Berlin, who had been relegated to the Second Division after finishing at the very bottom of the table. As a result, Die Wolfe were able to pick him up at a relatively low price. Friedrich played an instrumental role in Germany’s third place finish at the World Cup and will most likely control the back line with another summer signing: Danish defender Simon Kjaer, which is the biggest transfer in the Bundesliga so far this season. The 21 year old, who was an integral part of Palermo’s defense last season, was named Danish talent of the year in 2009 and brings with him a fast, aggressive style of play. Wolfsburg also picked up midfielder Cicero, also from recently relegated Hertha BSC. The 25 year old Brazilian is a very versatile player, able to play a number of positions in the midfield as can also be used in defense. After parting with Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins after only one year at the Volkswagen Arena, which saw the 25 year old score 6 goals in 16 appearances Mclaren made another big signing, snatching up 24 year old Croatian International Mario Mandzukic from NK Dinamo Zagreb. Over the past 3 seasons he has scored 52 goals in 110 appearances and won the scoring title during the 2008/09 campaign (16).
After McClaren’s incredible success with FC Twente in the Eredivisie last season expectations in Wolf country are running high. But McClaren knows that with so many new players and different styles being introduced to the first squad that it will be a feat in itself to unite and have everyone on the same page. I strongly believe that Wolfsburg will have the tools capable of attaining a Champions League spot for next season and will create a nucleus of players able and willing to compete domestically for years to come.