The VfB Stuttgart advisory board and president announced Wednesday a decision to part ways with Fredi Bobic with immediate effect. The announcement was made public less than an hour before kickoff of Stuttgart’s English week battle in Dortmund.
Bobic had been working with VfB Stuttgart since the summer of 2010, taking charge of the sporting area in April 2013, The former Germany national player had increasingly become the primary outlet for fan frustration over results on the pitch. In the 37 matches since Bobic ascended to CEO of the sporting operations at VfB, the club had won just 33 points, which became the launching point for signs in the fan curve calling for Bobic’s ouster over both the lack of success but also the lack of moves in the summer break to improve the club’s roster after narrowly surviving a relegation scare.
Now, with Armin Veh having been brought back with expectations to begin to restore some of the magic of the club’s 2006-07 title run, Stuttgart is instead languishing at 17th in the table with no wins from five matches, having scored just one goal before getting two in their Wednesday night draw with the BVB Wednesday night after Bobic’s release.
Chairman Dr. Joachim Schmidt, at the press conference held to announce the decision, clarified that the decision arrived not due to increasing fan pressure, rather from intense consideration of the current situation at the club by those in charge.
“We thank Fredi Bobic for the sustained work and his great committment,” said Schmidt. “He was here for a difficult phase of our club history and had to battle some adversity. But the bottom line remains that after four years he was unable to put together a team which consistently reached the appropriate table area to match our budget. A payroll of 40 million must have us, as VfB, at least in a single-digit table placement. We’ve been left behind in recent years by other clubs with smaller budgets.”
“We did not just succumb to the pressure of the fans. That would have been too simple.”
The German football publication kicker sites also Bobic’s effort to sign former VfB player Krassimir Balakov as Thomas Schneider’s successor as one of the reasons for the 42-year-old’d dismissal this week. Current coach Veh went even as far as criticising Bobic for the job he had done over the last few years in an interview with Sport Bild, saying:
“The performances(going by the table) the last few seasons can’t all be blamed on the coaches. One has to ask the question, how did it happen? And at the end of the day one gets back to the squad building done over the years.”
Rumored candidates for Bobic’s replacement include current RB Leipzig director and former VfB coach Ralf Rangnick, Karslruher SC director Jens Todt, Stuttgarter Kickers director Michael Zeyer, former VfB keeper Jens Lehmann, and former Germany U-21 coach Rainer Adrion. And while speculation over names comes with the territory, club president Bernd Wahler said the club is focusing their search on the right person to help make great changes for the future, rather than simply getting a name and face in the position.
“In recent months, we have thoroughly analysed the reasons for the disappointing sporting development as well as the fundamental operations and responsibilities within the club,” explained club president Bern Wahler. “Both aspects have ultimately led to the conviction that we must act. It’s not just about installing a new person in a very important position, rather also about the overall direction of the sporting program.”
Stuttgart directors are taking some criticism for both the timing of the move and for having contacted Bobic regarding his pending unemployment status via a phone call to his mobile, as he was in Dortmund for the club’s match. Schmidt explained that plans for making the move after the Dortmund match had to be reshuffled when it came to their attention that the news of the decision, reached in the wake of Saturday’s 0:2 home loss to Hoffeneheim, had leaked to media outlets, causing fear that it would become public before they had opportunity to deliver the news themselves. Schmidt clarified, however, that they did fire Bobic via telephone, however, instead asked him to return to Stuttgart so they could have the conversation in person.