Frontzeck and McClaren – A Long Time Going

14 Feb

One classic English stereotype of the Germans is the efficiency at which they work at – Vorsprung durch Technik and all that. Well, one thing that the Germans are lagging behind at, particularly this season, is the speed at which they hire and fire managers or head coaches. But this week, the pace has quickened.

Michael Frontzeck has not won a home league game all season. His side are surely doomed. Steve McClaren, after a brief revival post-winter, has lost his star man, Edin Dzeko and then lost at home to BVB and away at Hannover. This follows a highly disappointing first half-season in charge in which Wolfsburg won only four games, killing hopes of a successful 2010/11 campaign.

In the last seven days, both have been relieved of their duties. Pierre Littbarski has taken over (perhaps only temporarily as today Ralf Rangnick has admitted contact) at the Volkswagen Arena, but he felt an all too familiar feeling of defeat despite fielding four debutants, all signed by McClaren under Dieter Hoeneß. Michael Frontzeck followed McClaren out of a job yesterday evening (this morning replaced by Lucien Favre), after two disastrous defeats compounded the general feeling in Mönchengladbach that he was no longer up to the task.

I went to Borussia Park for their week 17 clash against Hamburg. Both sides were poor but HSV had that extra little bit of quality (Mainly Eljero Elia) to bag the points and take them north. What struck me was not the lack of quality on show from the home side, but the sheer lack of effort on display that bitter (oh wow it was bitter) Friday night. Crucial figures like Marco Reus and Michael Bradley seemed at half pace whilst the defence (fair enough missing key men like Dante) showed no inclination to want to fight and battle for a clean sheet. They were booed and hissed off as Hamburg celebrated in the south-east corner of a stadium that really doesn’t deserve such little quality inside it.

Frontzeck was kept on post-Christmas, something completely baffling to me as SIXTEEN managers in England’s top four leagues were sacked or replaced between week 17 and 18 of the Bundesliga season. Wins at Nurnberg and Frankfurt gave Frontzeck, who had in three weeks doubled die Fohlen’s win tally, hope but devastating and quite frankly self-destructing losses at home to Stuttgart and at St. Pauli have forced Frontzeck out of the door.

The defeat to Stuttgart made it 3 points from a possible 30 at home (no wins) and again the Nordkurve booed, hissed and hurled plastic cups over the netting behind the goal. Fed up of seeing their side lose at home, ‘Gladbach’s support vilified Frontzeck.

The following week at the Millerntor started well for Mönchengladbach, who have won four away from the ‘pressures’ of Borussia Park, with Igor de Camargo’s early goal. The same player was soon sent off (harsh or not, make your mind up here (2:00) – http://bit.ly/gj1WpW) and ‘Gladbach imploded. This coupled with a win for Köln and a point for Kaiserslautern against favoured teams gave sporting director Max Eberl no choice but to pull the trigger and dismiss Frontzeck after 19 months in charge.

McClaren’s time in Lower Saxony has been unhappy since he moved from his successful post at Twente. Fuelled by press speculation of an unsettled squad and disgruntled fans (who infamously taunted the ‘wally with the brolly’ before Christmas in a draw against Hoffenheim), McClaren’s brief tenure was always under threat, and a review of his position was conducted last month. Further defeats after the break, particularly the concerning 3-0 home reverse against a second-gear BVB, left Hoeneß with seemingly no option but to sack the first English Bundesliga coach before the 2008/9 Champions slid further into the mire of an already tense relegation battle.

Both ‘Gladbach and Wolfsburg gave their men time. Long-term stability is a key part of running a German football club. All too often, particularly in England, managers are shown the door for having a bad month, but these firings were a long time coming. Each club have expressed their disappointment in having to make the changes, but their moves were understandable, at least according to Michael Frontzeck. Both positions seemed untenable.

By James Challinor (@JaChallinor)

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