Felix Magath will strike back!

By Ross Dunbar

Felix Magath’s relationship with VfL Wolfsburg may have recently ended abruptly, but he still threatens to reach the summit of German football once again. He is far from everyone’s cup of tea.

On his CV, there are two Bundesliga triumphs for FC Bayern, a place in the Champions League for VfB Stuttgart and the incredible 2009 championship victory for Wolfsburg. Perception and reality is two completely opposite things; and in Germany, “the dictator’s” reputation is far from glowing at the moment.

But interestingly, Magath has never been this type of character. Indeed, his time as a footballer has almost certainly shaped his managerial credibility as we know it.

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Where did it all go wrong at Wolfsburg?

By Amy Quinn, writing from Dublin.

Sat down today to try and make sense of the chaos at VfL Wolfsburg, a club I have followed on and off since the wake of their championship winning 08/09 season. Since then, many things have changed. Felix Magath, the coach who achieved what seemed impossible with the Lower Saxony side, has moved on to Schalke. Edin Dzeko, who netted over twenty goals that year, has taken up the Premiership challenge at Manchester City. Armin Veh, Magath’s immediate replacement for the 09/10 season, now plies his trade at Hamburger SV - just a short drive west of Wolfsburg. Lorenz Gunther-Kostner, Wolfsburg’s reserve team coach, replaced Veh as caretaker manager until the end of that season, before returning to his original position when the permanent job was taken by Steve McClaren. As of yesterday, February 7th, Wolfsburg’s manager is Pierre Littbarski - assistant coach under McClaren, on an interim basis. Confused yet? I am.

That’s four managers in the space of two years - four managers since Wolfsburg clinched the Bundesliga crown in spectacular fashion. Where did it all go wrong?

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Dzeko to “team that everyone wants to play for” Real Madrid?

By Nitjyot Saroan, Boston

This summer Van Gaal had one target - Edin Dzeko. He refused the idea of signing Ozil and Khedira with Christian Nerlinger (Sporting Director of Bayern) proclaiming that the Bavarians were unsure of their quality. From the beginning of this season German media has been certain that Dzeko is promised to Bayern. Last week, though, the saga of Dzeko (which has involved likes of Man City, AC Milan, Juventus & Manchester United) took an unpredictable turn. The main contenders to sign the Wolfsburg star are now Real Madrid.

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FSV Mainz 05 come from behind to beat VfL Wolfsburg.

By Amy Quinn, writing from Dublin

The Bundesliga this weekend was full of shock results. With champions Bayern Munich losing to newly promoted Kaiserslautern, and Hannover beating last year’s runner-up Schalke. However, few were more surpising than the upset at the Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg. With only thirty minutes gone the three points seemed to be in the bag for the home team, but Mainz clawed back into the game to leave as 4-3 winners.

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Simon Kjaer leaves Palermo for… who?!

By Saf Hossain, writing from London

Perhaps he is still feeling the effects of that nasty clash of heads in Denmark’s World Cup match with Cameroon, but the centre-back has today signed for VFL Wolfsburg of the Bundesliga. This comes as a big shock to several Premier League suitors and can only be described as a massive coup for new Wolfsburg manager Schteve Steve Mclaren.

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Man City fail to get ‘Dzek-ed’ out

Sports News - May 09, 2010Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko was apparently atop of Manchester City’s summer transfer list, but the Bosnian striker looks set to stay in Germany playing for new manager Steve McClaren. Dzeko is still at the Bundesliga club despite having a transfer clause that expired on Monday May 31st.

 The clause was said to allow the striker to be transfered to another club at  £34 million and City were said to be ahead of all other interested parties. But since the deadline has passed and no one has met the desired bid, it will now be up to the club to decide how much they want for their prized asset. Dzeko is also being targeted by Bayern Munich, Arsenal, AC Milan, and even Totteham, amongst others. The Bosnian has said he wants a new challenge elsewhere, and City’s Garry Cook was supposedly in Germany over the weekend in urgent negotiations to bring the player to Eastlands.

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Sorry Liverpool, but Fulham are England’s favourites in the Europa League

Football - SV Hamburg v Fulham UEFA Europa League Semi Final First Leg

By Eric Beard

To all Liverpool fans, I really am sorry. I love watching the in-form Reds when they put it all together, but last night’s display against Atletico Madrid was nothing short of abysmal. While I do not want to take anything away from Atletico and their 1-0 home victory, the truth is that the Spanish side has been in horrible form losing three consecutive La Liga matches (3-0 away to Espanyol, 1-2 home to Xerez, and 2-1 away to Villarreal). I know that there was a volcano and all that forced Rafa and the rest of the Reds to travel on the ground to Spain, but there’s no excuse for not getting a shot on target. Seriously, this is Liverpool Football Club. You are supposed to be merciless and ruthless when going forward, not simply allow players to run at you freely. I’m confident that things will be sorted out at Anfield, but with the current set-up I just do not enjoy watching this club, which is not something I am happy to admit.

Football - Atletico Madrid v Liverpool UEFA Europa League Semi Final First Leg

Anyway, Diego Forlan capitalized early, and while I, along with most football fans, see Liverpool reaching the Europa League final via a win at Anfield, the club has done nothing to deserve it. Call me a bellend, but I believe Liverpool are too big of a club for the Europa League. Form is temporary, class is permanent, but trophies are based off of form. I watch the Europa League to see the underrecognized play exquisite football, and that is exactly what Roy Hodgson has been able to do with Fulham. The Cottagers look slight favourites to progress to the Europa League final after holding Hamburg in Germany to a nil-nil draw, thanks greatly to a brilliant display from Mark Schwartzer. The “total football”-esque style of play Roy has his London lads playing is nothing short of breathtaking. Dominating possession and downing the likes of Shakhtar Donestk, Juventus, and Wolfsburg sounds like a great run by a side going far in the Champions League.

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It’s Crunch Time: Who will perform and Who will falter?

By Andy Jones

Well it’s been quite a week in football. Domestically, Tottenham look like they are finally going to get that top four finish that has eluded them for so long, even though Man City and Liverpool are hot on their tail (two and four points behind). The title race between the top three will hit its climax this weekend with United and Chelsea clashing. Rooney though is absent, and with reports that Drogba could start it makes for a mouth-watering clash. The rumour mills are starting up with Martin O’Neill possibly on the way out from Villa at the end of the season and Steve Clarke going to replace Zola as boss at West Ham.

Football - Manchester United v Fulham Barclays Premier League

But this week, again, all eyes have been on Europe. Arsenal vs Barcelona no doubt being the biggest match, with Arsenal somehow pulling of a brilliant comeback, but what would have happened had Barca kept up the pressure and not taken their foot of the gas or if Almunia hadn’t been on form? United went down 2-1 to Munich, but you would back them to win the return leg at Old Trafford, despite Rooney most probably being absent. However, in the league, can you really see Berbatov being United’s salvation? In a number of articles, the United strike force has been cross examined, people wondering if it will be one of the youngsters,  Macheda or Diouf who can make a difference. I think Ferguson will play Berbatov up front with the likes of Park who has found his shooting boots, Valencia and Giggs playing off the big man. This is the time for someone to make themselves the season’s unlikely hero, just like Macheda did last year, but I wouldn’t put my money on it being him again after a season disrupted by injury.

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