Munich - When the summer transfer window slammed shut on Friday night, officials at most Bundesliga clubs breathed a collective sigh of relief that one of the busiest periods of their year had finally come to a close. Not so Felix Magath.
Overegged the pudding?
The VfL Wolfsburg coach is renowned as one of the shrewdest movers in the transfer market, with a seemingly endless list of contacts and scouts informing him of the latest up-and-coming talents. The 59-year-old has also tempted some star names to try their luck in the Bundesliga, most notable among them Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Raul at FC Schalke 04.
There are signs nonetheless that Magath can be over-exuberant in his pursuit of new faces to freshen up his squad. Last summer, Wolfsburg signed eleven new players while showing the door to 13. They lost three of their first four Bundesliga matches in 2011/12 and were down in twelfth place at the winter break.
Magath reacted by bringing in eight more players and releasing seven before the second half of the campaign. Their form improved marginally, but an eighth place finish - outside of European qualification - was disappointing for a club of Wolfsburg's ambition, not least as they were Bundesliga champions just three seasons ago. This summer has seen a similar story unfold, with seven new recruits putting pen to paper and 14 players allowed to move on.
History repeating itself
Despite the pruning, Magath still has a first-team pool of 35 players to choose from, the largest of any side in the league. By contrast, defending champions Borussia Dortmund have a 29-man senior squad, while at FC Bayern Munich Jupp Heynckes has just 27. The Wolves may have managed an opening day win away to Stuttgart, but their 4-0 home defeat to Hannover 96 on Sunday exposed some serious shortcomings.
The team were out of sorts from start to finish, perhaps unsurprisingly given that three of the back four and two of the attacking trio only joined in July. New players, particularly those coming from foreign clubs, need time to adapt to unfamiliar surroundings as well as to gel with team-mates. Such a revolving-door policy carries an inherent risk and it failed to bear fruit for Magath in the 2010/11 season with Schalke, when the club ended up in 14th place - and he himself was gone before the end of the campaign.
But there is definite method to what may at times appear a somewhat scatter-gun approach. While it may not breed continuity and stability within the squad, it certainly keeps players on their toes and determined to perform at their maximum every time. Indeed, viewed over the last ten seasons, Magath is the Bundesliga's most successful coach, having won the coveted crown three times (in '05, '06 and '09). If he can find the right mix once more, Wolfsburg could once again be heading back in the direction of the heights the club, and their head coach, aspire to.