Van Bommel could be first of many Bundesliga coaches to go
BERLIN (AP) — Mark van Bommel became the first Bundesliga coach to lose his job this season when he was fired by Wolfsburg on Sunday after just nine league games in charge.
He’s unlikely to be the last. A handful of other coaches are under increasing pressure in Germany and the case of Van Bommel showed how quickly clubs can lose patience.
Van Bommel had started well with five wins across all competitions, but the former Dutch international made a major error in the first, when he fielded six substitutes instead of the permitted five in a German Cup win over Preußen Münster.
Wolfsburg was subsequently thrown out of the competition in favor of the fourth-tier side, and though the club brushed it off by offering six tickets for the price of five and winning its first four league games, it has since gone five matches in the Bundesliga and three in the Champions League without a victory.
Saturday’s 2-0 loss at home to Freiburg was Van Bommel’s last game in charge. It was another uncertain performance after consecutive defeats to Salzburg, Union Berlin and Borussia Mönchengladbach.
“In the end there was no belief we would reverse the trend in this constellation, and that we could shape the season the way we imagined,” general manager Jörg Schmadtke said Monday. “You can say it happened fast and early. On the other hand, it’s not like the development was only taken notice of yesterday.”
Assistant coach Michael Frontzeck is taking over on an interim basis. The 57-year-old Frontzeck previously coached Kaiserslautern, St. Pauli, Hannover and Gladbach among others.
Wolfsburg finished fourth last season to qualify for the Champions League. Halfway through the group stage, it’s bottom of a group featuring Sevilla, Salzburg and Lille.
Schmadtke said the decision to fire van Bommel was “a defeat for us all” including himself and sporting director Marcel Schäfer.
“It’s a sad moment for me and not a nice situation either, because it’s also an admission that you made a mistake,” Schmadtke said.
It was Schmadtke and Schäfer’s decision not to continue with van Bommel’s predecessor, Oliver Glasner, despite his good work with the team over two seasons. There was friction between Schmadtke and Glasner, and the Austrian left to take over Eintracht Frankfurt at the end of last season.
But Glasner is a prime candidate to follow van Bommel as the next coach to be fired in the Bundesliga.
Frankfurt, which finished fifth last season, is struggling in 15th with just one win from its opening nine games under Glasner. His team was also knocked out of the German Cup in the first round by third-division Waldhof Mannheim.
Both Augsburg coach Markus Weinzierl and its general manager Stefan Reuter are also under pressure after just one win in the league so far. Friday’s 4-1 loss at Mainz could have been even worse.
“Unacceptable,” the furious Weinzierl said of his team’s performance.
Hertha Berlin’s Pál Dárdai was the early favorite to lose his job as coach after a lackluster start to the season, but his players have responded with wins over Frankfurt and Gladbach to ease the pressure on the former club captain.
Greuther Fürth has only one point from its opening nine games but the promoted club is maintaining faith in Stefan Leitl as coach for now. Fürth was leading in Leipzig on Saturday until it conceded two goals in quick succession and lost 4-1. It was a similar story against Hertha and Cologne.
The next games will determine which if any of the threatened coaches follow van Bommel. Glasner’s Frankfurt next hosts Leipzig before a potentially decision game against last-place Fürth.
Weinzierl’s Augsburg plays Bochum in the cup before Stuttgart and Wolfsburg in the league.
Dárdai’s Hertha plays Münster in the cup on Tuesday before visiting Hoffenheim and hosting Bayer Leverkusen, while Fürth visits high-flying Freiburg.
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Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP