Marcel Schäfer knows VfL Wolfsburg like the back of his hand. The former defender was active on the pitch between 2007 and 2017 and has been an official in the Autostadt since 2018. Knowledge accumulates there, which the current sports director is happy to share in the new episode of “kicker meets DAZN”.
Sports director Marcel Schäfer is happy about the current phase at VfL Wolfsburg and what he hopes will be a successful future. IMAGO/regios24
From padawan to Jedi or from apprentice to master: Marcel Schäfer experienced exactly that at VfL Wolfsburg.
That’s why Jörg Schmadtke, now 39, is “forever grateful.” Schäfer, who had learned as sports director under managing director Schmadtke from July 1, 2018 to January 31, 2023, “looked over his shoulder” and accumulated knowledge, took over as direct successor to the mentor as sports director at the Wolves at the beginning of February. But to list everything exactly what he learned from the “always honest” and certainly sometimes unpleasant Schmadtke, “there isn’t enough time for that in this podcast,” says Schäfer in the new episode of “kicker meets DAZN”. Just this much: “I think it’s part of it that things get intense and rough at times.”
But there was enough time to talk about various things – such as the Wolfsburg location itself. Schäfer of course admitted at this point that there is a good breeding ground with a partner in the background: “It is true that we have to say that we have good conditions here in Wolfsburg – also in terms of infrastructure. This is of course linked to the fact that “We have such a strong partner in VW.”
Wolfsburg is a rather quieter location, we know that – and we are sometimes laughed at a bit.
Marcel Schäfer, sports director at VfL Wolfsburg
The former professional continued: “There were certainly different conditions and different strategies in the past.” What Schäfer meant by that: In consultation with the company, things didn’t always go completely smoothly, and expectations weren’t fulfilled economically or sportingly in some years. That’s why a lot of things have shifted – for example the squad structuring with “young, wild people”. In Schäfer’s opinion, Niko Kovac, who can develop talent as a coach, is a perfect fit for this: “We have a top coach who has a lot of experience, especially in developing young players. And: Wolfsburg is a rather quieter location, we know that – and We sometimes get laughed at a bit. But I think it’s sometimes very beneficial for a player’s development.”
“The way he plays appealed to us”: Schäfer on Wind
One of these currently up-and-coming players is of course striker Jonas Wind, who came from FC Copenhagen in 2022 and is already an absolute guarantee with seven goals in the first six Bundesliga games this season.
KMD #183 (with Marcel Schäfer)
02.10. – 6:40 p.m. 113: 58 minutes
“It was like that with Jonas,” Schäfer began his statement: “We watched him for a long time. He also suffered a serious injury in Copenhagen (knee operation and a long break between 2019 and 2020; Anm. d. Red.), but then he came back again. The way he plays appealed to us.” And why exactly? Schäfer gave high praise here: “Because he is a robust striker, because he serves as a wall player and is incredibly difficult to play against. Taking the ball away from him is almost impossible.”
There are also deficits, but according to the managing director, that doesn’t play a big role on the pitch: “He may not have the pace on the track. But you can see all the more that he always had to assert himself. He had to learn to compensate for that. Technically he is one of our best players – and when he is in the box he simply has an incredible presence and a clean finish. In addition, he has an outstanding character and always tries to work on himself. All in all, a profile that appeals to us – and that’s why we watched him not for months, but for two years.”
Schäfer likes to browse the kicker app
The podcast also talked about his day-to-day work with the moderators Alex Schlüter and Benni Zander – and about how Schäfer consumes the kicker. “That has changed a bit,” said Schäfer at the beginning.
Predecessors and successors at VfL Wolfsburg: Jörg Schmadtke (left) and Marcel Schäfer. IMAGO/Christian Schroedter
What did he mean by that? “I used to read the kicker up and down when the Internet wasn’t there yet, when social media wasn’t around yet. Nowadays, for example, on the way home from the Frankfurt game yesterday (2-0 home game win against Eintracht). this 6th Bundesliga matchday; Anm. d. Red.) played the kicker app up and down to see what the international results were like. I also read a few reports. So consumer behavior has already changed so that, like many others, it is now more digital – even if the magazine is still on my desk on Mondays and I reach for the kicker.”
In the podcast interview on “kicker meets DAZN”, the former Wolfsburg professional (2007 to 2017) and German champion from 2009 also talks about the difference between his old job as sports director and his current one as managing director of sports. Why he sees a failed coaching appointment like Mark van Bommel’s, which only lasted for a short time, in 2021 as a personal defeat. How exactly scouting works and what is important is also discussed in detail. However, the fact that the family is neglected in this intensive work is not hidden – and that is how Schäfer deals with it.
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