Wally with the Brolly
December 24, 2010 9 Comments
It’s the time of year that underperforming managers dread…Christmas. By now you have had your chance to prove what you can do and if it’s not working out the vultures will start circling. In recent weeks we have seen Chris Hughton, Sam Allardyce and Rafa Benitez (read Benitez joins the Italian Job…less) all lose their jobs and it looks like Steve McLaren’s time as manager of VFL Wolfsburg is hanging by a thread!
With Wolfsburg only 4 points clear of relegation, the side has won just 4 of its 17 games in this season’s Bundesliga and as a result of growing unrest from the crowd Managing Director, Dieter Hoeness has come out and publicly backed McLaren…well for now. When looking at the German side on paper there is a real class and balance about the team. Their defence contains highly rated Italian centre back Andrea Barzagli, German international Arne Freidrich and the young Danish talent Simon Kjaer. The midfield and attack then contains Brazilian internationals Josue, Grafite and the very highly rated Diego. There is then the most wanted striker in European football, Edin Dzeko leading the line.
So why are Wolfsburg and McLaren struggling?
Well lets not forget McLaren’s reputation! Despite winning the Dutch Eredivisie with small club FC Twente, McLaren’s career will always be overshadowed by his performance as England manager. The image of Steve McLaren prouncing up and down a rain-sodden Wembley touch-line with an umbrella to hand, will remain in the minds of millions across the world!The world media portrayed him as a joke…the Wally with the Brolly! A section of the crowd even took taunts to new levels. They decided to take green and white umbrellas to their last league game, in a protest of McLarens rein at the club.
It’s not just McClaren’s performances that have taken a battering by the media. He has consistently been shown as the butt of all jokes. His performances with the Dutch and German press have been literally cringe worthy. On a number of occasions the Englishman has spoken broken English adding a slight European accent to his interviews.
But this is an image of McLaren the players have seen. With him coming to the club as a new manager, the players would most definitely have had a preconceived idea of who McClaren is. They have seen McLaren in his most high-profile job fail! Is it possible that the players see their manager as a failure, a joke? McClaren has highlighted himself that there are problems in the dressing room. “I am disappointed, frustrated. We have problems in the dressing room, problems on the field.” Once the dressing room doesn’t back you then there is always going to be problems.
McLaren also faces the problem of ongoing transfer rumours. Before even joining the club star striker Edin Dzeko has been sought after. He was ever so close to joining Juventus in the summer and if recent rumours are to be believed Dzeko could be playing at Eastland’s for Man City come January. Dzeko has publicly stated his disappointment at not joining Juventus and he has made it clear that he wants to leave Wolfsburg in the not so distant future. Seeing the star player want to leave the club won’t send a good message throughout the rest of the team and again this reiterates the point that there are problems in the dressing room.
Luckily for Wolfsburg, the Bosnian is still scoring goals this season (10 goals in 17 games), however the team just can’t win games. Having drawn their last six league games Wolfsburg are not being consistent in the way they play! When Dzeko and the attack play well the defence is poor and vice versa. In recent games especially in the cup against minnows Energie Cottbus the defence was all over the place. The first goal came from a set-piece where the Cottbus striker had a free header, the second goal came from a disorganised back line and the third from just poor concentration (watch the goals here).
So where do they improve? McClaren has highlighted Arsenal’s denilson as a possible January transfer target. And Denilson could be a valuable asset to the Germans. He would certainly link the play well and add some more creativity to the side which could turn draws in to wins for McClaren. But I feel McClaren needs to get rid of the players at the club who may be undermining him and creating an unhappy dressing room. Look at Dzeko for instance, the sides best player but let him go if he isn’t happy especially if City come in with +30million. I think it will certainly be a busy January for Wolfsburg with players coming and going but for me McClaren needs to sort out problems off the pitch before he can address those on it.
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