Bundesliga: Mark van Bommel will not be the captain at Wolfsburg | Sport | German football and important international sports news | DW
Mark van Bommel’s reputation precedes him in Germany.
Of the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) Leaflet too mirror Magazine for the tabloid PICTURE, the German sports media have all celebrated the return of the so-called aggressive league leader to the Bundesliga this week as the new head coach of VfL Wolfsburg.
What may sound like a bizarre title from North Korea to English ears is in Germany the nickname that van Bommel was given by former Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld in recognition of the robust performance of his Dutch captain in midfield.
Van Bommel played 183 games for FC Bayern from 2006 to 2011, won two double and cup wins in 2008 and 2010, but also received more than 50 yellow cards.
“As a player, he was a master of dirty tricks,” she said size. “His core characteristics were straight legs, extended elbows, clenched fists and sharp words that were addressed to spectators, opponents and occasionally even to teammates.”
Still, you don’t win league titles in the Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Italy, win the Champions League or reach the World Cup final after being twice named Dutch Footballer of the Year just by being dirty.
“I never liked that label, but I never got rid of it,” said van Bommel himself, preferring to emphasize his role in transforming defense into attack. “You enjoy intercepting the game and playing a good pass for a goal. It’s not that noticeable, but it is important that the team intercepts passes.”
As a player, van Bommel’s philosophy was clear. As a coach, however, less since his retirement in 2013. The 44-year-old has worked in youth football in the Netherlands and as assistant to Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk for the Saudi Arabian and Australian national teams.
His only job as head coach at PSV Eindhoven ended after only 75 competitive games, a runner-up in the Eredivisie and a departure from the Europa League, which was described by the club’s general manager as “not worthy of PSV”.
Now the inexperienced van Bommel in Wolfsburg, whom Oliver Glasner led to a top 4 placement and a return to the Champions League last season, meets an even tougher supervisor: Sports Director Jörg Schmadtke.
“This is not a fantasy land”
Schmadtke came in Autostadt, the “automobile city” of Volkswagen, in June 2018. VfL Wolfsburg, founded in 1945 by Volkswagen employees, had just survived the relegation playoffs in a row – a clear displeasure for the losing club Dieter Hecking in 2015 and beat Manchester United and Real Madrid in the Champions League.
But Schmadtke turned the fate of Wolfsburg around with the help of sports director Marcel Schäfer. And he did it his own way – even if that means he struck swords with successful coaches.
Although Bruno Labbadia led the team from the relegation playoff to the Europa League, due to disagreements over transfers, Bruno Labbadia decided not to extend his contract, while Glasner also did not get the players or guarantees he wanted despite returning Wolfsburg leading led into the Champions League for the third time in the club’s history.
“The ideas that [Glasner] were not feasible, “Schmadtke told the local Wolfsburger Allgemeine Zeitung in November. “This is not a fantasy land; you can’t want things that are unrealistic.”
‘Not a fantasy land’: Managing Director Jörg Schmadtke pulls the strings in Wolfsburg
Despite considerable financial support from the parent company Volkswagen as one of three Bundesliga exceptions to the 50 + 1 ownership rule, Wolfsburg has had to tighten its belt in recent years. After the emissions scandal that rocked Volkswagen in 2015, the company’s investments in the soccer team were cut by 30% to around 75 million euros (91.3 million US dollars).
And Schmadtke’s transfer policy reflects that, from striker Wout Weghorst (20 goals this season) and winger Ridle Baku (eight assists and six goals) to midfield motor Xaver Schlager and full-backs Kevin Mbabu, Paulo Otavio and Maxence Lacroix. Talisman Maximilian Arnold is just as in top form as central defender John Anthony Brooks, while Schmadtke is already tackling a change for Cologne defender Sebastian Bornauw.
“Schmadtke shines in the shade; rustic, analytical, different, ”he writes Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “His feeling for what makes ambitious professionals what makes him one of the most successful pioneers in the league right now.”
A chance for van Bommel to set an example
Van Bommel: A chance to make a mark?
Van Bommel: A chance to make a mark?
Now the Wolfsburg-based company is convinced that, despite his inexperience and his strong personality, van Bommel has what it takes to take the baton in hand and develop the club further.
“As a player, he thought like a coach and questioned everything,” says Andries Jonker, who worked with van Bommel as Louis van Gaal’s assistant at Bayern Munich and also briefly coached Wolfsburg in 2017.
“He’s asking a lot of himself and that’s what he’s asking of the rest of the team. Even if he was dissatisfied with the warm up because he thought the players weren’t concentrating, in the locker room he would be angry and tell them. You need these emotions and this personality if you want to achieve great things. “
If he wants, Wolfsburg could be an important step for van Bommel’s young coaching career. But he will have to accept very quickly that there is only one “aggressive leader” in the Autostadt these days.