Wolfsburg have let coach Dieter Hecking go, after a slow start to the season with just one win in seven league games. The club said the decision was mutual. Hecking said bad results had consequences in football.
VfL Wolfsburg on Monday released their coach of almost four years - the man who took them to second in the league, to domestic cup glory and to uncharted territory in the Champions League knockout phases.
The start to the current Bundesliga season has been bleak, with one win and three draws in seven Bundesliga matches to date - only good enough for 14th in the table. During this weekend's 1-0 defeat at home to RB Leipzig, cries of "Hecking out" ("Hecking raus") were audible from the stands.
"This step really pains me on a personal level," sporting director Klaus Allofs said. "It was a great pleasure to work with Dieter Hecking and [assistant] Dirk Bremser. We have cooperated closely and successfully in an intensive period of almost four years, including the German Cup win, and finishing as runners up in the Bundesliga in 2015."
But Allofs soon moved on to the downsides - not least missing out last season on qualifying for European competition for the current campaign. He noted as well that the wholesale changes to the squad - seeking in large part to compensate for the departure of star playmaker Kevin de Bruyne - "have not brought the turnaround we were hoping for."
Hecking: 'We can be proud'
Hecking joined the Wolves from Nuremberg in 2012 and delivered perhaps more than most observers expected at a club where managers traditionally come and go on a regular basis. He said he was disappointed at the decision, "but it's part of this business that if success eludes you, then you have to reckon with a separation."
"I would have liked to continue working with the team and to lead them back to a winning course, but I respect the club's decision," Hecking continued, thanking fans and players for their "awesome support" over the past years: "We have celebrated great successes here together, and can be proud of them."
On an interim basis, U23 coach Valerien Ismael will take over duties at Wolfsburg, whose next match is away to Darmstadt in the Bundesliga on Saturday, October 22.
Wolfsburg have a curious position in German football - with VW backing, they're among the Bundesliga's most financially powerful clubs, capable of bringing in stars like De Bruyne or current playmaker Julian Draxler.
However, for a club whose tradition is often derided in Germany, holding on to these talents can prove a major challenge - especially when the side cannot offer the carrot of Champions League football to sweeten the deal. Since De Bruyne's move to Manchester City in August of last year, Wolfsburg have let Andre Schürrle, Dante, Max Kruse, Bas Dost, Naldo, and others depart in the most-recent summer window.
Julian Draxler, just 12 months after arriving, said publicly in August that he wanted to move on as well - the club ultimately decided they couldn't afford another star departure.
Big summer signing Mario Gomez is yet to notch a goal or an assist in his six league appearances up front for the new-look Wolves.