Bruno Labbadia had few grounds for cheer last season, although his team put up a spirited performance in the DFB Cup final before succumbing to FC Bayern
Bruno Labbadia had few grounds for cheer last season, although his team put up a spirited performance in the DFB Cup final before succumbing to FC Bayern

'Must do better' the Stuttgart credo this season

Stuttgart - A glance at the Bundesliga summer transfer market is enough to confirm that big changes are in the air at VfB Stuttgart. With no less than eight new arrivals booked in so far, the South West's biggest club are determined to get back in the mix at the top end of the table this season.

Bobic: "Didn't measure up"

The signings of Daniel Schwaab, Sercan Sararer, Thorsten Kirschbaum, Marco Rojas, Moritz Leitner, Mohammed Abdellaoue and Konstantin Rausch, along with Patrick Funk's return from FC St. Pauli, add up to the major qualitative and quantitative gain head coach Bruno Labbadia was seeking on the back of a disappointing league campaign.

A twelfth-place finish was nowhere near good enough by Stuttgart's standards. Sporting director Fredi Bobic, who has certainly not been underemployed over the past few months, readily acknowledges that "We didn't measure up." Given the outlay on reinforcements, considerably more will be expected of the team in 2013/14 and one thing Labbadia wants to see his charges deliver without delay is "exciting football."

No-one at the club is anticipating a charge on FC Bayern and Borussia Dortmund at the very top quite yet, but from here on in there will certainly be far fewer grounds for, and tolerance of, explaining away VfB's absence from the chasing group. At any rate, while failing to put together their now almost traditional second season-half surge up the table, the team did improve noticeably towards the end of the campaign and they will take encouragement above all from their performance in narrowly losing out to FC Bayern in the .

Greater clout up front

The game in Berlin provided a reminder of the kind of football Stuttgart are capable of playing and the aim is to do so with far greater consistency and more of a cutting edge. To that end, 15-goal , the club's top scorer by a country mile, will have the support of a talented and experienced new foil in Norway international Abdellaoue. Veteran Brazil-born former Germany frontman Cacau is also back to full fitness and ready and willing to add a potentially deadly arrow to VfB's attacking bow.

Just behind the frontline Moritz Leitner, snapped up from Dortmund on a two-year loan arrangement, should inject a touch of class and youthful enthusiasm to the midfield - ditto German-born Turkey international Sercan Sararer, fresh on the books from relegated Greuther Fürth. Off the pitch, things have been moving and shaking as well, with Bernd Wahler confirmed as new club president in late July. The former VfB youth team player has earmarked a league finish between "fourth and ninth place" as a reasonable target for the campaign ahead. Now it's down to the players and coaching staff to deliver.

Jens Fischer / Angus Davison