Stephan Lerch looks back on his successful spell at VfL Wolfsburg.
Ralf Kellermann left big boots to fill, but after four years as head coach of VfL Women, there is no doubt that Stephan Lerch has carried on his predecessor’s success story with the Green-and-Whites and written new chapters. Lerch has collected seven out of a possible eight domestic titles – four in the DFB Cup and three league crowns. Although he didn’t quite hit the same heights in Europe, the final appearances in 2018 and 2020 can certainly be seen as successes.
Stephan Lerch, how have you come to terms with your farewell over the last few days, following your final match in charge against SV Werder Bremen?
Stephan Lech: “It was an emotional goodbye. There were actually tears in my eyes after the final whistle, and when I hugged my coaching staff I got a lump in my throat. But there’d be something wrong if I didn’t get emotional at saying goodbye after a total of eight years at VfL Wolfsburg.”
Which moments do you look back on most fondly?
Lerch: “On the footballing front, it’s the titles we won, like my first league title. I can still remember the final whistle exactly. But the DFB Cup finals are also up there, when I think about the penalty shootout against Bayern Munich in 2018. The season just gone has been the most challenging of my career because of the circumstances surrounding it. In amongst all that are lots of great and funny moments with the people. I’ve been able to gain lots of experiences, which have certainly brought me further as a person and a coach.”
You recently completed your licensing badges as a football coach, on top of four years as a head coach at the highest level. What do you take from these experiences?
Lerch: “As coach you’re like the conductor of an orchestra, who dictates the beat – and sometimes you have to even think a few beats ahead. You have to manage the whole orchestra, give assistance and also criticise sometimes. And something beautiful only arises when everyone pulls together and carries out their jobs. I’ve taken that metaphor and internalised it here. A one-man-show doesn’t work in this job.”