Crying Wolves: ′Chaos club′ Wolfsburg on the brink of relegation again | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 03.05.2018
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Crying Wolves: 'Chaos club' Wolfsburg on the brink of relegation again

Two seasons ago, Wolfsburg beat Manchester United and Real Madrid in the Champions League, but now the Wolves are in another battle to preserve their Bundesliga status. With two games remaining, the club is in turmoil.

At full time, only three Wolfsburg players dared to approach their furious supporters.

"We tried to calm them down a bit," said a visibly disappointed Maximilian Arnold, revealing what he had discussed with the ultras after Saturday's 3-1 defeat to Hamburg, which saw the Northerners close the gap on the 16th-place Wolves to just two points with two games to play.

"Everyone saw the game," he continued. "If the alarm bells aren't ringing now, then I have no idea. It's about time we all pulled our fingers out."

The rest of the demoralized squad hung back. So, on Sunday at training, the fans came to them.

"You're all getting relegated!" jeered some, incase the players hadn't seen the Bundesliga table. "Get up the hill!" shouted others, referring to the brutal physical exercises used by former coach Felix Magath.

Current coach Bruno Labbadia wasn't spared either. "Great training, Bruno!" was one sarcastic shout. "That can't be it, surely? I wish my holidays were as relaxing as that!"

But Labbadia, who infamously rescued Hamburg in 2015 and who took over the Wolfsburg in February, is far from the biggest problem at what Kicker magazine has labelled the "biggest chaos club" in the Bundesliga.

"It's difficult for me," said the 52-year-old. "Ultimately, I'm sorting out problems which occurred before I arrived. Nothing has grown together here. I can't change that."

Fußball Bundesliga FC Augsburg - VfL Wolfsburg - Spielende (picture-alliance/dpa/P. Steffen)

Bruno Labbadia (left) is tasked with keeping Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga

Long list of problems 

One man who could have changed things was Olaf Rebbe, the young sporting director who was sacked on Friday, six days before his 40th birthday and just 20 hours before kick-off against HSV.

After taking over in January 2017, Rebbe's first action was to complete the sale of Julian Draxler to Paris Saint-Germain, the German following in the footsteps of Kevin De Bruyne, André Schürrle, Ivica Olic and Daniel Caligiuri as players who have left the 2015 German Cup winners and Bundesliga runners-up.

German international and club captain Mario Gomez followed and Rebbe's replacements – Augsburg captain Paul Verhaegh, Admir Mehmedi from Bayer Leverkusen, Landry Dimata from Ostend in Belgium and Liverpool loanee Divock Origi – have underwhelmed. With just ten goals, no team has scored fewer goals than Wolfsburg this calendar year.

Six coaches in two seasons have also seen a collapse in squad discipline; only RB Leipzig can match Wolfsburg's six red cards.

Injuries are another problem leveled at Rebbe who oversaw the restructuring of the club's medical department at the start of the season.

"Olaf Rebbe has managed our transition very well," said fellow board member Dr. Tim Schuhmacher. The former lawyer for parent company Volkswagen who has no footballing background clearly sees things more positively than most.

- Read more: Divock Origi: 'Thierry Henry is someone I can relate to'

WfL Wolfsburg - Olaf Rebbe, Sportdirektor (Getty Images/Bongarts/A. Grimm)

Sporting director Olaf Rebbe was sacked just 20 hours ahead of Wolfsburg's defeat to Hamburg.

Another 'Malente miracle?'

And so the thankless task of saving Wolfsburg falls to Labbadia. In his Hamburg days, his team excursions to the village of Malente amid the lakes of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany's northernmost state, earned legendary status as HSV rescued themselves from the brink.

Now, after overseeing just one win in nine games, he has prepared for Saturday's game against RB Leipzig by taking his Wolfsburg team to the rural Thuringian village of Teistungen - an "emergency plan in no-man's land," in the words of one local newspaper, Wolfsburger Nachrichten.

With resurgent relegation rivals Hamburg travelling to out-of-sorts Eintracht Frankfurt on the back of two straight wins, Wolfsburg know that they need to get a result in Leipzig.

"We need to pull ourselves together and play these last two games as if they are our last," said midfielder Arnold. Lose them both, and they could be.

Elsewhere on Matchday 32:

- With three wins from their last four, seemingly-doomed Hamburg face their next "final" away at Eintracht Frankfurt. In contrast to their rivals, the mood among Christian Titz's players could hardly be better. But If Wolfsburg win in Leipzig, HSV must win if they are to take the relegation battle to the final day. 

- Borussia Dortmund can guarantee Champions League football next season with a home win over Mainz, who themselves aren't safe yet. Hoffenheim can also confirm their place at Europe's top table if they beat Stuttgart. Bayer Leverkusen will be looking to capitalize on any slip-ups when they travel to Bremen

- Champions Bayern Munich will be looking to bounce back from their mid-week disappointment in Madrid as they travel to relegated Cologne

Matchday 32 in full (all Saturday 15:30 CET):

Borussia Dortmund vs. Mainz 05
RB Leipzig vs. VfL Wolfsburg
Cologne vs. Bayern Munich
Werder Bremen vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. SC Freiburg
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Hamburg
Augsburg vs. Schalke 04
Hannover 96 vs. Hertha Berlin
VfB Stuttgart vs. Hoffenheim

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