In 52-year-old Bruno Labbadia, VfL Sporting director Olaf Rebbe quickly presented a successor to Martin Schmidt. Just one day after the Swiss coach stepped down, the football-tutor took questions from the hordes of gathered press representatives, following his first training session with his new team. Bruno Labbadia, who had previously notched up a total of 259 games as Bundesliga head-coach with Bayer Leverkusen, VfB Stuttgart and Hamburger SV, spoke about his decision to take on the VfL job and the challenges that lie ahead of him.
"Rested and very motivated"
After a one and a half year break, the head-coach considers himself "rested and very motivated", to begin working with his new team, as Labbadia immediately made clear. The former striker, who accumulated an astonishing 557 league games and some 204 goals in his active playing career, followed a "good feeling" to sign on with the Green-Whites until summer 2019, having previously turned down other coaching jobs: "I had the feeling that now is the time to get going again."
"Stability and orientation"
Labbadia is naturally well aware of the massive challenge facing him and his new side, with respect to the currently precarious situation in the table. The short preparation period ahead of the away game in Mainz on Friday (February 23rd, kick-off 20:30) thus requires a speedy approach to proving successful: "In such situations, it’s important to improvise," noted the new head-coach, who arrived on the Aller with his assistant-coach Eddy Sözer, with a view to having to forego too strict a tactical approach, as he looks to initially deal with the insecurities in the heads of his players. "The question is if that what the team can play is required right now. The manner in which football is played right now is more important than the system. The decisive questions are: What will help the team most? What is constructive in providing the team with the greatest stability and orientation?"
With respect to the recent lack of success, the focus must now be set entirely on the tasks ahead, and not on what has been the case until now. "All I am interested in is what we can now do. We need to make use of every single hour we have and concentrate on the few vital elements. The first thing we must do is construct a cohesive unit." In relation to Friday’s match, that means taking a "compact approach". The experienced coach is well aware of the significance of an intact team-spirit, within which every player finds his own role – particularly considering the long list of injuries plaguing the team at the moment. "As there are always cases of hardship: every individual in the squad is important," in achieving the ultimate goal of top-flight survival. "The future is eleven games."