Max Kruse at VfL Wolfsburg on the bench: ‘Request for delay’ according to Kovac

Against ex-club initially away

Anyone familiar with the careers of Niko Kovac and Max Kruse shouldn’t be surprised that many around VfL Wolfsburg have been asking this summer: The new coach and his idiosyncratic star – can it be right? The first answer to this is a resounding « yes » with a small « but ». Because during the first day of the Bundesliga against his former club Werder Bremen (Saturday, 3:30 p.m.), Kruse will initially only be seated on the bench. « Max had a calf injury first and then got sick. He definitely has some catching up to do. So it won’t be a start from the start, » Kovac confirmed on Thursday.

Otherwise, there is an impressive list of at least ten players at Wolfsburg who have already left or are expected to leave a far too big squad after Kovac’s start in June. But Kruse doesn’t like it.

According to an article by the ‘Wolfsburger Allgemeine Zeitung’, the manager and his number 9 met outside the club’s premises early for a swap deal. « Max is a great boy, I only have positive things to say, » Kovac said later during the training camp in Tyrol. He is a player who « despite his 34 years can still score 15 goals a season and play five to ten more. Always! He has the quality that few Bundesliga players have. When he is fit and physically able to do everything he can, he has skills like Thomas Müller. »

Since promotion to the Bundesliga: All Wolfsburg managers with a record

Niko Kovac (still without competitive play)

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In office since July 1, 2022

Florian Kohfeldt – 28 competitive games – 1.14 points per game

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Term: October 26, 2021 to May 15, 2022

Mark van Bommel – 13 competitive games – 1.15 points per game

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Term: July 1, 2021 to October 24, 2021

Oliver Glasner – 87 competitive games – 1.67 points per game

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Term: July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2021

Bruno Labbadia – 50 competitive games – 1.52 points per game

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Term: February 20, 2018 to June 30, 2019

Martin Schmidt – 22 competitive games – 1.18 points per game

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Term: September 18, 2017 to February 19, 2018

Andries Jonker – 19 competitive games – 1.47 points per game

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Term: February 27, 2017 to September 18, 2017

Valérien Ismaël – 17 competitive games – 1.12 points per game

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Term: October 17, 2016 to November 5, 2016

Dieter Hecking – 165 competitive games – 1.75 points per game

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Term: January 1, 2013 to October 17, 2016

Lorenz-Günther Köstner – 11 competitive games – 1.82 points per game

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Interim coach from October 25, 2012 to December 31, 2012 (previously already in 2010 with 21 games, 1.62 points average)

Félix Magath – 52 competitive games – 1.23 points per game

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Second term: 03/18/2011 to 10/25/2012

Pierre Litbarski – 5 competitive games – 0.60 points per game

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Interim coach from 07/02/2011 to 18/03/2011

Steve McClaren – 24 competitive games – 1.21 points per game

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Term: July 1, 2010 to February 7, 2011

Armin Veh – 27 competitive games – 1.26 points per game

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Term: July 1, 2009 to January 25, 2010

Félix Magath – 85 competitive games – 1.86 points per game

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First of two terms from 06/15/2007 to 06/30/2009

Klaus Augenthaler – 56 competitive games – 1.16 points per game

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Term: December 29, 2005 to May 19, 2007

Coach Holger – 25 competitive games – 1.28 points per game

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Term: July 1, 2005 to December 19, 2005

Eric Gerets – 44 competitive games – 1.34 points per game

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Term: April 4, 2004 to May 28, 2005

Jürgen Röber – 48 competitive games – 1.42 points per game

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Mandate: 03/04/2003 to 04/04/2004

Wolfgang Wolf – 195 competitive games – 1.45 points per game

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Term: 23/03/1998 to 04/03/2003 (replaced in the first Bundesliga season at Wolfsburg on matchday 28 by promotion manager Willi Reimann)

Max Kruse has plenty of competition in attack at VfL Wolfsburg

Kruse’s real challenge in Wolfsburg is therefore not Kovac, but the one he doesn’t know from Bremen: Because he has strong competition in VfL – in terms of quality and quantity. Lukas Nmecha, Jonas Wind, Bartosz Bialek, Omar Marmoush, Luca Waldschmidt, Maximilian Philipp, Jakub Kaminski and Patrick Wimmer: Besides Kruse, at least eight other professionals are available for four attacking spots. Five of them are senior internationals, six of whom are at least ten years younger than the former Werder captain.

For comparison: in Bremen and also at Union Berlin, Kruse was a so-called difference player for a long time, whose loss to Werder could never be replaced in 2019 and whose commitment raised the 1 FC Union 2020 on a different sporting level. Even at Wolfsburg, he was a key transfer in January, changing the mood in the dressing room and saving a battered side from relegation.

This situation has changed. His close confidant Florian Kohfeldt is no longer there. And from a purely sporting point of view, Kruse is no longer a savior, but currently only a challenger. Nevertheless, all fears about the relationship between Kovac and Kruse are meant to quell the fact that the 14-time national player has always got on particularly well with strong coaching personalities: Christian Streich in Freiburg, for example, or Lucien Favre at Borussia Monchengladbach. « Max is Max, » Streich said of him in March. With Kruse, you can « laugh once in a while. » From time to time we see exceptional passes and beautiful goals. What more do we want?


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