Saturday’s derby loss to FC Augsburg was the final straw that broke the camel’s back in the case of VFB Stuttgart trainer Alexander Zorniger, and after a torrid start to the season, he has paid the price with his job.
The Swabians find themselves just two points off the foot of the table and those in charge of the club have deemed the situation under Zorniger to be irretrievable and have moved to dismiss the man brought in this summer to stop the club suffering the same fate (a dire relegation scrap) as last season.
The sight of fans leaving at half-time at the weekend and those that stayed sarcastically/ ironically cheering on, must have been a bitter pill to swallow. The 4-0 home loss would have been equally, if not more depressing especially when you consider that Augsburg are a struggling side themselves rather than the high-flying outfit they were last season.
“The way we were beaten on Saturday in particular really worried us,” club president Bernd Wahler told the club’s website. “We have analysed the performances of the team and the work done by the technical staff and have made the decision to part ways.”
It is probably fair to say that the brave decision to appoint a coach with no Bundesliga experience has not paid off, but where does the blame really lie for the dismissal after just 13 Bundesliga games this season?
Let’s look at the trainer himself. The 48-year-old former RB Leipzig coach didn’t get off to the best of starts with five successive defeats, but there have to be questions asked about his tactical acumen. His clear strategy has been to defend by ‘defending from the front’, but the stats so far show that this has not worked with 31 goals conceded in 13 matches- the club’s worst record at this stage of a season and clearly the league’s worst record.
It has seemed this season as if the players have looked incapable of implementing the coach’s philosophy and likewise the coach has been unwilling to adapt his outlook despite a far from pleasing run of results.
Indeed, Saturday’s debacle against Augsburg finally saw Zorniger desperately trying to rectify his tactical set-up substituting defender Toni Sunjic after just 27 minutes. If Pep Guardiola does it, it is called tactical wisdom, but in the case of Alex Zorniger it reeked of desperation and cluelessness.
The coach obviously has to accept his fair share of the blame for the current lamentable situation, but the players too have to stand up and face the criticism that will rightly come their way. Die-hard VfB fans are entitled to expect a lot more from their troops than what they have been getting in recent weeks (and years).
The players however must also take their fair share of the blame for the fact that their coach has been given his marching orders. Serey Die and Christian Gentner have not gelled as a central midfield partnership (despite Die being a key reason for the club survived last season).
As mentioned, the defence has been leaker than an incontinent OAP, while the fullbacks have been charging forward with mindless abandon. The loss of Antonio Rudiger to Roma was clearly a big subtraction, but the complete lack of cohesion at times at the back has been lamentable. Having said that, some responsibility has to rest on the club’s hierarchy and sporting director Robin Dutt for sending Zorniger into the new season with an ill-equipped squad
Under-23 coach Jurgen Kramny has been appointed as interim coach until a permanent replacement has been found. Just who that replacement will be remains unclear at the moment, but the club have to decide whether they want a saviour for the short-term (à la Huub Stevens), or a longer-term solution.
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