The third relegation in seven years is imminent: VfB Stuttgart staggers to the bottom of the table, but holds on to Bruno Labbadia

The third relegation in seven years is imminent: VfB Stuttgart staggers to the bottom of the table, but holds on to Bruno Labbadia

Coach Bruno Labbadia seemed annoyed after the first crash to the bottom of the table in this crisis season, sports director Fabian Wohlgemuth was sobered. However, VfB Stuttgart did not get involved in the next coaching discussion. “That is not up for debate,” Wohlgemuth clarified on Saturday. But one thing is certain: the 0:1 against VfL Wolfsburg and the situation as the new table 18. Bundesliga has again exacerbated relegation worries and doubts about VfB’s suitability for the top division.

Wohlgemuth gave the team a worrying interim report after their performance against Lower Saxony. Performance and result were “at least questionable”. He commented on the fans chanting “Wake up!” with the words: “In the end they are not wrong after a game like this.”

And Labbadia is the one who should stabilize the Swabians in this difficult season from the start and save them from the third relegation in seven years. The balance sheet speaks less and less for him. A win from ten Bundesliga games and six defeats from the last eight games are not adequate proof of work for the intended role of the rescuer. Like the team, Labbadia had to listen to loud whistles from the fans after the final whistle.

That is not up for debate.

Fabian Wohlgemuthsports director of VfB, when asked about a change of coach

“As far as my job is concerned, I don’t think much about it at the moment,” the coach succinctly fended off the question about his future. Even Josha Vagnoman, called up to the DFB squad by national coach Hansi Flick, again only a substitute from Labbadia, defended the coach: “Of course” he wanted to continue with the 57-year-old. “Bruno is a super guy as a person. All I can say is that he does his job quite well. I think each of us has been totally onboard since we’ve been here.”

VfB have parted ways with Pellegrino Matarazzo and interim solution Michael Wimmer in recent months – and brought in Labbadia. But it seems increasingly questionable whether he can save VfB like he did VfL Wolfsburg in the 2017/18 season. Several questions arise for the international break: How can VfB strengthen faith? How can the Swabians increase the harmless offensive? Should striker Serhou Guirassy return from injury, can he really be the hopeful despite a week-long break? How can it be that the Swabians are braver again only after falling behind and after changes?

VfB “slept through” the first half, complained Vagnoman, who was still on the bench at the time. Sports director Wohlgemuth did not spare criticism: “We were too hesitant in the duels, had no conviction in our offensive actions and basically played no serious scoring chances.” The necessary determination was “not visible”. The fact that Omar Marmoush, who was loaned to VfB last season and didn’t defend consistently in the scene, scored the goal, fitted into the picture.

What annoyed Labbadia was that his team didn’t put VfL under pressure from the start, as he had instructed. Labbadia said he wanted to address the problem of a lack of self-confidence with many discussions. But hasn’t he been doing this for weeks? The fact that VfB received praise for the progress made in recent weeks by Wolfsburg coach Niko Kovac doesn’t help much given the blatant yield. The Swabians have never managed less than four wins in 25 match days in the Bundesliga. VfB was last in the table in the 2018/19 relegation season.

This time, the Swabians couldn’t rely on the fact that the competition didn’t score either and were even worse off. But it is also true that given the close proximity of the relegation candidates, a win could brighten the situation again – and two wins could even be an important step. If the away weakness continues after the international break at 1. FC Union Berlin (April 1) and VfL Bochum (April 9), the situation could become even more critical. (dpa)

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