The calendar year 2017 was an extremely intensive one for the Green-Whites. Sportingly, the Wolves achieved very little, struggled to collect points and – 20 years after winning promotion to the top-flight – finished the season in their worst ever position in the table: the relegation play-off spot! VfL general manager Dr. Tim Schumacher took a look back on his first full year in his managerial role at the club. In the first part of his end-of-year interview, the 43-year-old reviewed the anniversary season, the subsequent party and the part the fans had to play in the Wolves survival.
Dr. Tim Schumacher, if you were to map the VfL year on a fever-curve, how would the period from January to December look?
Dr. Tim Schumacher: It was a very unsettled year, characterised naturally by the very difficult sporting situation. After an uncomfortable winter, we managed to recover somewhat in March. That was then followed by the final few weeks of the season, which really didn’t go well for us. It was only after we’d survived the relegation play-offs, that we had the opportunity to take a breath. Looking back on the most recent few weeks, it’s clear to see that VfL has developed further and is on the road to recovery.
What has the club learned from almost being relegated?
Schumacher: We questioned a lot of issues, restructured and basically turned every stone. In the meantime, I consider us to be in a better position in many areas and more effectively organized. Olaf Rebbe reassembled the squad and rejuvenated with young players, whilst also altering and optimising the sporting structures. In one area we have long been in agreement: Something like this can never be allowed to happen again! Ultimately, this year has drawn us all closer together. The cohesion between the fans, the club and the city of Wolfsburg was unique. That has significantly influenced us for the future.
Dr. Tim Schumacher, we cannot retrospectively review VfL Wolfsburg without bowing to the achievements of the VfL women. How did you see their performances this year?
Dr. Tim Schumacher: That was the bright spot of the whole season. Women’s football is and remains the flagship in Wolfsburg. In the championship and cup, they claimed two titles – a sensational achievement. And the fact that the women’s team have confirmed their world-class quality again in the new season can be seen by taking a quick look at the current tally: Stephan Lerch’s side are mid-way table-toppers, whilst also still in the running in the Champions League and the DFB-Cup. We are extremely proud of their achievements.
How must the rest of the season go, in order to ascertain that it was a good one?
Schumacher: Naturally we all want to see so many draws turned into some more victories. We want to continue our consolidation and make a climb in the table as soon as possible. The goal is to continue and improve on what the team has indicated in the past few weeks. It the good work being done by the coaching staff continues to bear fruit, which it inevitably will, then we will automatically climb in the table.
Where does VfL Wolfsburg ultimately want to be? What is the medium-term target?
Schumacher: In the first step, we want to stabilise and consolidate, whilst innovatively developing further in the next step. Digitalisation and internationalisation are, for example, issues which VfL Wolfsburg intends to focus on more intensively in the future. There where we are the best – as in women’s football – is where we want to remain, whilst continually improving. The important thing is that we remain concentrated and focused. At the end of the day, one thing truly counts: Sustainable sporting success.