Wolfsburg parted company with manager Valerien Ismael, after suffering their twelfth league defeat of the season on Friday. The wolves have appointed Andries Jonker to help steer them away from the relegation zone.
The wolves enjoyed three promising seasons under Dieter Hecking but have struggled to replace their best players. In the 2014/15 season, Hecking guided them to a second place finish in the Bundesliga. Kevin De Bruyne and Ivan Perisic left at the beginning of the following season and Wolfsburg slumped to an eighth place finish.
The Hecking era was about to enter a last dark chapter and he was sacked in October due to a poor run of results at the beginning of the season. This was largely down to the departures of Julian Draxler, Naldo, Dante, Andre Schurrle, Bast Dost and Max Kruse.
Wolfsburg challenged Bayern Munich’s dominance in the Bundesliga when they clinched the league title in 2009. However, despite finishing as runners-up in the 2014/15 season, they’ve failed to progress from their first ever Bundesliga title.
They are currently 14th place in the Bundesliga league table and are just two points ahead of the relegation play-off place. Wolfsburg won only two of their opening 14 Bundesliga fixtures, which led to the sacking of Dieter Hecking during this poor run of results.
Valerian Ismael was promoted from Wolfsburg’s B team to take charge of the senior side in October. After losing four of their last five games, Wolfsburg’s home defeat to Werder Bremen forced the club into making their second managerial sacking of the season.
Former Arsenal academy head coach Andries Jonker has been selected to succeed Ismael. The Dutchman will take charge of his first match when the wolves visit 11th place Mainz on Saturday.
Jonker assisted Van Gaal during his time at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, and was also assistant manager at Wolfsburg under Felix Magath in 2012. He also took temporary charge of Bayern Munich following the sacking of Van Gaal in 2011.
The 54-year-old is renowned for the roles he’s played in improving the youth development at both Arsenal and the Dutch Football Association. Jonker has 12 matches to guide Wolfsburg away from relegation and will face Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig, Hertha Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt as the season reaches its climax.
What’s gone wrong at Wolfsburg?
Dieter Hecking was beginning to form a very strong outfit at the Volkswagen Arena. Kevin De Bruyne was the creator and Bast Dost was the target man. This worked effectively during the 2014/15 season, in which the wolves finished second place in the Bundesliga.
Last season, Julian Draxler was the creative source and Bast Dost was again the target man. The departure of Kevin De Bruyne clearly had an effect on the team and the decline started once the Belgian attacking midfielder joined Manchester City in 2015.
Mario Gomez, who enjoyed an incredible spell at Besiktas last season, joined Wolfsburg at the beginning of the season. Gomez was recalled to the German national team for Euro 2016 and was originally signed to replace Bast Dost, who joined Sporting Lisbon in the summer.
Mario Gomez has scored only six goals in the Bundesliga this season and only the two bottom clubs Ingolstadt and Darmstadt have scored less goals this season. The explanation for this season’s rapid downfall is rather simplistic because they’ve failed to replace their top players.
Hecking replaced De Bruyne with Draxler but the latter’s departure is bound to create problems for Jonker, who will have to utilize his resources without key players. Jonker’s short-term task is to keep them in the Bundesliga but his links to youth development looks very promising for their long term future.