McClaren to stay on at Wolfsburg
Thursday 23 December 2010
Steve McClaren has been given a vote of confidence by Bundesliga club Wolfsburg and will still be their coach when training resumes after the winter break on January 2.
The Englishman remains under pressure after the Wolves disappointingly finished the first half of the season in 13th position in the Bundesliga and were knocked out of the DFB-Pokal by second division side Energie Cottbus last night.
However, after crisis talks today, Wolfsburg's managing director Dieter Hoeness announced that McClaren would be remaining in charge, but warned he expects major improvements during the second half of the season from him and, more importantly, from the team.
"We have got some cleaning up to do," said Hoeness on his club's website.
"We told the team eight weeks ago after the defeat in Nurnberg that their basic attitude must change.
"We did not get a reaction so now we have got to react. The fans do not deserve to see what they are seeing on the pitch, particularly given the exemplary way in which they supported us against Cottbus.
"We expect the coaches to act consequentially and to punish bad behaviour both on and off the field."
The first consequences have already been taken by Hoeness, who has dropped Karim Ziani and Caiuby from the professional squad.
The pair will now train with the reserve team with youngsters Akaki Gogia, Kevin Wolze and Michael Schulze promoted to the first-team squad to replace them.
Further new faces may also arrive, but McClaren has been told he must spend any money wisely in the transfer market.
"Above all, we will push on with our rebuilding of a successful team next summer," explained Hoeness.
"It is difficult to do that in the winter, but we will see what we can do.
"It is going to be a painful time for one or two people around here. With this current team in this current situation, enduring success is no longer possible."
McClaren arrived in the summer to inherit a team which had failed to build on their Bundesliga title success under Felix Magath in 2009.
Both Armin Veh and Lorenz-Gunther Kostner struggled to match the expectations last season and McClaren, who had led Twente to a surprise Dutch title in 2010, was hired as the first English coach in the Bundesliga.
The Wolves started with a slightly unfortunate 2-1 defeat at Bayern Munich and that result set the tone for the first half of the season.
They threw away a three-goal lead to lose 4-3 at home to Mainz in their next game and have only won three times in front of their own fans this season.
A run of six straight draws to end 2010 has left them in 13th position in the table with just 19 points from 17 games.
They are currently 10 points adrift of fifth-placed Bayern Munich and a place in Europe next season, which was the minimum aim McClaren set when he arrived in the summer.
His first challenge of 2011 will be none other than a home clash against Bayern and Hoeness expects to see a different attitude from everybody during that game.
"The players don't want to move out of their comfort zone, but being constructively critical and having a good functional team are not contradictory," he added.
"In fact, they are absolutely necessary for sporting success.
"Pretending to be harmonious and being superficial will not get us anywhere, though."
Players such as Diego and Grafite have come out in support of McClaren during the latter stages of 2010, promising to "win for the coach".
They have not been able to deliver on such promises, however, and Hoeness says it is now up to them to change since the club has done all it can to improve the situation.
"From our side, there has nothing that we have not tried to get the players performing consistently to their best," added Hoeness, who admitted he is "not sleeping at night" and "will not be going on holiday" this Christmas.
McClaren is due to fly back to England for the festive period today, although he will be expected back in Lower Saxony earlier than originally planned to try and turn around a delicate situation.
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