Munich - Dieter Hecking has long put forward a case for a lowering of the VfL Wolfsburg bar, but only now do the Auto City wolfpack appear to have taken heed of their leader's call.
"Situation is different"
"We've learned from last season," Wolfsburg striker Ivica Olic told bundesliga.com. "We will take each game as it comes. We all agree on that," he added.
The Croatia striker's humble words will come as music to the ears of head coach Hecking, who is all too familiar with the lofty expectations hanging over the 2008/09 Bundesliga champions. "As coach of Wolfsburg, you are always being confronted with the Champions League or the Europa League, even though Wolfsburg have only achieved that twice in the last 10 years," he said. "Now the situation is different."
Hecking's infectious attitude adjustment comes off the back of a somewhat tumultuous campaign. Taking hold of the reins from caretaker coach Lorenz-Günther Köstner, who himself inherited a side from Felix Magath which was in danger of being relegated, the former 1. FC Nuremberg handler managed to tame a somewhat feral bunch, leading them through the winter rough to a modest eleventh-place finish.
"At the time, we made a big step forwards," recalled Olic. "We went ten games unbeaten. That doesn't happen to many teams, which means we have the quality. We have to be consistent and build on this potential. We were unlucky to draw so many games. If we win those sort of games in the future, then I have no reason to worry."
To help deliver on said potential, Olic and Co. can also count on the support of a useful-looking mix of old and new faces. Swiss international defender Timm Klose followed Hecking to Lower Saxony, Daniel Caligiuri has joined the club from SC Freiburg and South Korea international Ja-Cheol Koo once again finds himself in Wolves territory after a fruitful loan spell at FC Augsburg.
The results so far, however, have been mixed, with pre-season defeats to newly-promoted Bundesliga side and local rivals Eintracht Braunschweig, Danish champions FC Copenhagen and Belgian outfit Club Brugge KV only marginally offset by wins over Austrian Second Division representatives SCR Altach and Swiss Super League club FC St. Gallen.
Indeed, if anything, Wolfsburg's summer fortunes provide yet further vindication of Hecking's demand for "more consistency within the club" ahead of the new campaign. Another mid-table finish might not have Wolfsburg fans howling at the moon à la 2009, but it would certainly represent a step in the right direction in the long run.