Wolfsburg - As new VfL Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking prepared to oversee his first training session on Thursday morning, the feeling of this being a clean break for the 2008/09 Bundesliga champions was palpable.
"A good start"
The 48-year-old was in buoyant mood as he penned a few autographs in the incessant rain before putting his new charges through their paces for the frst time, ahead of their departure for a seven-day training camp in Turkey.
Taking up the coaching reins halfway through the season is never easy, but Hecking was quick to lay down his short-term goals for the Bundesliga's 15th-placed club. "The most important thing is that the team and I connect quickly and that I can get my expectations across to them," he explained.
"A good start against Stuttgart will be important. That would give the team some momentum. We need to put ourselves in a position that gives us a chance. If the opportunity presents itself, we must be there to take it,” he added in reference to a potential post-winter surge up the table.
"Open the door"
As for the squad itself, Hecking insists he will give every player a fair crack of the whip. "They'll all have the opportunity to show what they can do. I want to open the door to those who haven't played so much in the last few weeks," he added.
One of those likely to benefit from Wolfsburg's managerial reshuffle - with Klaus Allofs also coming on board as sporting director - is striker , who recently returned to training in the wake of a cruciate ligament injury. "I can understand his impatience [...] but it doesn't make sense to throw him in for the sake of it," Hecking said.
With a place in the quarter-finals of the DFB Cup assured and seven points separating the Wolves from the relegation zone, former FC Nuremberg coach Hecking has a solid base to work from going into 2013. In that regard, he had a good word for the man who preceded him in a caretaker capacity, Lorenz-Günther Köstner.
"With the work that he did, Lorenz-Günther Köstner ensured the team went into the winter break in fine spirits. I'm very thankful to Lorenz and to the team that we are still in the DFB Cup. Getting to Berlin and lifting the cup is a wonderful goal to have for the second half of the season."