A revolving door of personnel has afforded some success, but plenty of failure in recent years for the coach who just cannot keep a side settled over long periods
By Clark Whitney | German Football Editor
With the transfer window having been open for just a week, Wolfsburg have used the opportunity to make wholesale changes to their squad. Felix Magath’s side have added six players to their ranks, and reports suggest that they are close to signing four more.
On the other hand, Tolga Cigerci, Aliaksandr Hleb and Thomas Kahlenberg have left the Volkswagen-Arena, beginning what could be a 10-player exodus from the club. In total, the Lower Saxony side could make up to 20 changes to their squad in mid-season. As of midnight, CET on Sunday, the combined sum of transfers made by the other 17 Bundesliga teams is just 36.
|WINTER SHOPPING CHECKLIST
|1) Ferhan Hasani ✔
2) Felipe Lopes ✔
3) Alexander Lukovic x
4) Petr Jiracek ✔
5) Slobodan Medojevic ✔
6) Vaclav Pilar x
7) Ricardo Rodriguez x
8) Giovanni Sio ✔
9) Ibrahim Sissoko ✔
10) Vieirinha ✔
Magath has been known to prefer a large pool of players to choose from, but nonetheless averages replacements for about a third of his team with every transfer period. The result is that, less than three years later, his current squad bears almost no resemblance whatsoever to that which won the Bundesliga in 2009. Of his first-choice XI in the title-winning year, only Diego Benaglio, Marcel Schafer, Makoto Hasebe and Josue remain - the latter not for much longer, if rumours of his imminent departure are to be believed.
For dealing players with the freewheeling
|WINTER SALES CHECKLIST
|1) Hvoje Cale x
2) Tolga Cigerci ✔
3) Patrick Helmes x
4) Aliaksandr Hleb ✔
5) Josue x
6) Thomas Kahlenberg ✔
7) Sortirios Kyrgiakos x
8) Srdjan Lakic x
9) Patrick Ochs x
10) Jan Polak x
But the practice of never having a settled team comes at a cost: weeks, if not months, of uncertainty within the team, and no real identity. It is no coincidence that when Wolfsburg won the Bundesliga in 2009, it came months after Magath made just two additions, trimming six who were considered surplus to requirements. And that very same team struggled in the first half of the campaign, following the signings of 14 and removal of 15 players.
|MAGATH'S MADNESS | The ins and outs of the last five windows
||Signings (league avg)*
||Sales (league avg)*
|Winter '11||Wolfsburg||6 (2.2)||4 (3.2)|
|Summer '10||Schalke||14 (9.0)||15 (9.6)|
|Winter '10||Schalke||10 (2.9)||5 (3.4)|
|Summer '09||Schalke||13 (9.1)||6 (8.3)|
|*Includes loans, loan returns, full signings, and promotions & demotions to & from youth & reserve teams|
To drastically change a team once smacks of desperation. But to do so every six months, threatening unwanted players - some of whom had only arrived half a year prior - with banishment to the Regionalliga Nord, speaks of a desperate tyrant with no control over his club.
Felix Magath is a decorated coach who, with discipline and respected leadership, managed to achieve success on a limited budget, sometimes with very limited talent at his disposal. But now his reputation has diminished as his transfer policies have become more and more farcical. Magath would be wise to return to his roots.
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