Ralph Hasenhüttl (pictured) has been appointed as Niko Kovač's replacement at Wolfsburg. - © Imago
Ralph Hasenhüttl (pictured) has been appointed as Niko Kovač's replacement at Wolfsburg. - © Imago

Wolfsburg appoint Ralph Hasenhüttl as head coach


Wolfsburg have reacted to the sacking of Niko Kovač by bringing in former Ingolstadt, RB Leipzig and Southampton coach Ralph Hasenhüttl.

Kovač was dismissed following Saturday's 2-1 loss to Union Berlin - the culmination of an 11-match winless run that has seen Wolfsburg fall to within six points of the bottom three.

Hasenhüttl had been out of work since being sacked as Southampton coach in November 2022, but performed wonders in his previous stints in Germany, gaining promotion with Ingolstadt and steering Leipzig into the UEFA Champions League for the first time.

The 56-year-old - who spent the best part of four years in the English Premier League with former club Southampton - has signed a long-term contract.

"We have a short-term situation in which we need to quickly restore our belief in winning," commented Wolfsburg sporting director Sebastian Schindzielorz. "The other perspective is long-term planning: we want to focus on young players with development potential. Ralph can do both things."

Hasenhüttl oversaw 83 matches in charge of Leipzig between July 2016 and May 2018, claiming runners-up and sixth-placed Bundesliga finishes. He previously took Ingolstadt into the Bundesliga in his first full season in charge, before guiding them to an impressive 11th-placed finish in their debut top-flight campaign. The Austrian also won promotion from Germany's 3. Liga with Aalen in 2011/12.

Wolfsburg travel to Werder Bremen in Hasenhüttl's first match in charge, on 30 March. With eight rounds of fixtures remaining, the Wolves are 14th in the table, some 10 points adrift of the European qualification spots. They face Borussia Mönchengladbach, Leipzig, Bochum, Freiburg, Darmstadt, Bayern Munich and relegation-threatened Mainz in their final seven games of 2023/24.

"The task is clear," Hasenhüttl said at his official unveiling on Monday. "We have to try to get back to winning ways in order to stay in the league. Ultimately, it's about getting the team playing my style of football as quickly as possible. I'm very happy to be back in the Bundesliga."