Thursday, 21 January 2021

Season 3: Klarpp's journey

 With a heavy heart German manager Sturgen Klarpp walked into his chairman's office to hand in his resignation Nordsjælland, he had been headhunted by Bundesliga side Wolfsburg and the opportunity to return to the motherland and test his skills at a higher level was too strong.

Klarpp had to hit the ground running, preseason had already began and he needed to assess the team's strengths and weaknesses quickly and bring in any new additions.

The young first choice goalkeeper at his old club Nordsjælland was top of the list, although not quite ready for 1st team action for Wolfsburg Klarpp saw the potential in Sigurd Hansen and immediatley loaned him back to Nordsjælland.  Klarpp knew the facilities and staff at his old club but suit his development perfectly.

Other notable signings where the re-signing on loan of Taylor Harwood-Bellis from Man City, £10m for Right back Louis Beyer, £11.5m for young  Czech starlet Adam Hlozek, £15.75m for the Man Utd winger Daniel James, £12m for Faitout Maouassa and the biggest signing the experienced Tottenham winger Lucas Moura.

Surplus to requirements at the Volkswagen Arena where right back Kevin Mbabu for £8.5m, Marvin Stefaniak for £5m, Brazilian right back William for a health £16.5m, £10.5m for Brekalo and finally John Brookes a centre back to division rivals Dortmund.  Wage heavy Mesut Özil was also loaned out to free up more cash.

After the poor previous season Klarpp was given the target of a top half finish, given a bit of luck and everyone pulling the weight Klarpp knew he could achieve more.

 Klarpp then set his focus on the training ground, the players needed to work hard to get to grips with the new season and also get to know their new team mates.  Klarpp kept his trusted 4-3-3 formation from his previous club but also introduced two new variants, a more defencive 4-1-2-2-1 using a defensive midfielder in a holding role and also a more attacking version swapping the defensive midfielder with an attacking midfielder further up the field.

Klarpp's first competitive match was a cup game against lowly ASV Cham.  Wolfsburg gave the travelling away fans a treat with a resounding 9-0 victory.  The first half of the season had mixed results but left Wolfsburg in a decent 6th place with half the season left to play.  They also progressed to the next round of the cup.

January is never a great time to sign new players, it can take some players time to get to grips with the new training and playing styles and also fit in with their new team mates, but Klarpp knew if he was to push higher his team would once more need to be strengthened.

In came Bisseck, Gabbia and Palacios for a combined £26m, although Klarpp didn't want to sell talented central defender Pongracic, a release clause in his contract meant Wolfsburg were unable to keep him at the club.  Bayern Munich paid £19.5m

Despite going out of the cup in the quarter final, Wolfsburg's results continued to improve, in the remaining 12 matches Wolfsburg won x, drew 3 times and only lost twice.  With the other larger sides also having to play in Europe this left Klarpp's side able to leapfrog more established sides, Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Hertha Berlin into 2nd place.  

Once again Klarpp was awarded the German manager of the year.  What will happen next season?  Klarpp set his sights on the title!

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