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Football: VfB Stuttgart – The path is right, but where does it lead?

EA soccer goal is 7.32 meters wide, and Chris Führich was all alone in front of it and had free choice. Left? To the right? Flat? High? With the hoe? “Just push me in,” the ball advised him – but Führich hit it hard against the post.

VfB Stuttgart have other players who, when in doubt, opt for the second-best solution, most notably Konstantinos Mavropanos. The defender now put the ball in front of Hoffenheim with his head for the winning goal. A week ago he had, completely unnecessarily, killed a player from Bochum in the penalty area at the last minute. penalty. Goal. final whistle.

Anyone who does such crazy things will at some point only fight against relegation with perseverance slogans. “We’ll get back up,” coach Pellegrino Matarazzo has promised since the weekend, but after his previous oath (“We’re moving together”) was about as ineffective as the penultimate one (“We’re getting rolling”), even the most loyal fans are losing their faith away. “Magath is on the market!” just got one Swabian Arrow1992 shared in the VfB fan forum – in blissful memory of Felix the Happy, who drilled VfB into the Champions League shortly after the turn of the millennium.

coach out?

Unrest in the executive floor

“Only over my dead body,” VfB sporting director Sven Mislintat swears to himself every day. He refuses the industry-standard emergency reflex and considers Matarazzo to be the best horse in the stable, who only exceptionally refuses to jump over the Oxer due to a chain of unfortunate circumstances – injuries, bad luck and Corona. Nevertheless, no one would be surprised if VfB soon used the change of coach as a last impulse. Why shouldn’t Mislintat also do crazy things from time to time – as a logical continuation of the inexplicable shots against the post, crooked headers and stupid fouls in the penalty area?

Development work: Sven Mislintat (left) comforts Konstantinos Mavropanos

Source: dpa / Marijan Murat

The head of sport is one of the bosses at VfB, and they started the craziness. Without need, last year when everything was still fine. Great team, great games, great coach and talent scout Mislintat, nicknamed “Diamond Eye”. Everything was going – until the top bosses began their power struggle. Between President Claus Vogt and Thomas Hitzlsperger, the CEO of VfB-AG, it was like in a tavern at half past eleven at night, when the regular carpenters polish each other’s bulbs with the cast-iron ashtray. You pathetic rogue, Hitzlsperger hissed roughly through his teeth. You power-mad Daimler jumping jack, countered Vogt’s face.

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Vogt is more than president, he’s a fan. He founded “FC Fair Play” and the fans love him for it, not least the organized ones, the Ultras. On the VfB supervisory board, between the top managers of Swabian world market leaders, he was at most half as popular, and if what evil tongues claim is not completely false, they made the old VfB gunner Hitzlsperger sharp with the idea: “You shoot the Vogt and become president.” Hitzlsperger was a good weapon, a club hero, as “the hammer” he shot VfB to the championship in 2007. But then, very abruptly, he capitulated. Capitalism at VfB lost ground just as suddenly and the majority of fans celebrated the new culture – regardless of the question of whether a Bundesliga club in the million-euro competition can make a living from the culture.

Sponsors drop out

It’s getting tight now, and it’s not just because of the Corona failures that VfB have to tighten their belts. The cleaning group Kärcher, a world market leader, is letting its contract as a “premium partner” expire this year, and group boss Hartmut Jenner is leaving the VfB supervisory board in the spring. Even at Daimler AG, VfB’s main sponsor, the good neighborly loyalty and homeland ties are not necessarily set in stone. It is not only rumored about their exit from the MercedesCup, the tennis tournament at the Weissenhof in Stuttgart – VfB may also have to take the star off the radiator sooner rather than later, the sponsorship contract with the neighbors ends next year.

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Controversial coach: Calls for Pellegrino Matarazzo’s sacking are growing louder

Quelle: Getty Images/Alex Grimm

The Stuttgarter Zeitung suspects that the VfB president wants to “overcome the crisis with his permanent smile”. The team spirit is not far away, Vogt only clearly acknowledges sporting leadership “when a TV camera is running”. He even encouraged his old enemy Hitzlsperger in German not to let his creative power flag: “Thomas has committed himself to giving everything until the end of his contract.”

In truth, Hitzlsperger has been known as the “lame duck” ever since he lost the duel against Vogt and announced his departure. Occasionally, as head of sport, he tells the players that they should make an effort – “the rest,” the Lästergoschen scoff, “he leaves to Mislintat.” As a one-man show, he’s always in a good mood, and he’s clearly not worried about that he might end up as a wooden eye instead of a diamond eye. “The path is right,” Mislintat has firmly recognized, “even with a detour via the second division.”

Wehrle gives VfB hope

His philosophy corresponds to the famous Freiburg model: you have to be patient and believe in young talents when they are relegated. Only: Stuttgart is not Freiburg. The Swabians in the capital don’t like mediocrity. Your region is at the top, culturally, socially and economically. “In the stadium,” says ex-president Erwin Staudt, “there are VfB fans who usually work for a world market leader.” It doesn’t have to be Daimler, Bosch or Porsche, it can just as well be one of the many “hidden champions” that Model country is full of medium-sized world market leaders. They are sloppy, the Swabians, and the fact that VfB has only been German champions five times isn’t enough for them. “People feel like number one,” says former IBM boss Staudt, “they expect perfection.” He was the last one to bring it to them. German Champion 2007. Champions League.

And now?

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Staudt: “With all due respect to Materazzo, I would have changed coaches at Christmas. Sometimes you can only change the mood through personnel measures.”

The next one is scheduled for March. Alexander Wehrle, most recently managing director at 1.FC Köln, but a born VfB player, comes home as the new CEO. If he’s unlucky, he’ll start with the third descent in a few years and it would be the most dangerous. The first one was explosive. Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder, who had just been elected president, inherited it in 1975, along with the urgent advice of coach Albert Sing: “Clean out the club rooms, squeeze out any boils.”

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