A return to normality may be some way off, but VfL Wolfsburg Women have already begun their preparations for a return to domestic and European action - albeit in small groups. While the UEFA Women’s Champions League has been postponed indefinitely, the FLYERALARM Women’s Bundesliga and DFB Cup - both of which have been suspended until 30 April - could resume as early as next month. Here, head coach Stephan Lerch reveals how he is coping with the current situation and how he plans on preparing the unbeaten She-Wolves for a potential three-pronged push for silverware.
Stephan, how are you and how have you spent the last few weeks away from the pitch?
Stephan Lerch: “As a coach, I’ve been in the same position as the majority of other employees - I was at home and able to sort out a few things that hadn’t been done recently. On the agenda were preparations for the coming months, but I also had lengthy virtual discussions with Ralf Kellermann and my coaching team on conceptual development and scouting. I obviously didn’t forget about my personal life, either. Being able to spend so much time with my wife and little daughter out of the blue was something I really enjoyed.”
The She-Wolves have already started training again in smaller groups. How are the players’ fitness levels and what exactly are you getting up to in training?
Lerch: “I’m convinced our fitness levels haven’t suffered in the last few weeks. The players have followed their programmes in a very disciplined manner - maybe we were even able to improve a little in that department. You obviously can’t beat working on the pitch, though. At the moment we’re working a lot with the ball, focusing on technique and finishing. We’re slowly starting to work on our agility again. We’re obviously avoiding challenges in order to adhere to social distancing regulations.”
Domestic competitions are suspended until 30 April. As things stand the FLYERALARM Women’s Bundesliga and DFB Cup will resume in May, but nothing’s been confirmed yet. How does this uncertainty affect your ability to plan training sessions?
Lerch: “We’re preparing for everything, whether it’s a return to action in May or even later. We hope to be able to train properly as a team again soon - only then can we start working on team tactics again. At the moment we’re slowly but surely upping the ante, but we’re not training at full throttle just yet. We’ll only do that once a date for resumption has been confirmed.”
This season has been an incredibly successful one so far. VfL have a realistic chance of going all the way in all three competitions. How frustrating would it be if the campaign cannot be completed?
Lerch: “A resumption of the season has to be feasible from a health standpoint - the most important thing is that society sticks together. From a purely sporting perspective it would be unbelievably frustrating, as we’re in a promising position in all three competitions. We’re working very hard and putting in a lot of effort. That’s why we want to finish the season under the right conditions, even though we know games would take place in different circumstances than before the break.”