Berlin - VfL Wolfsburg's two defeats at the start of the second half of the season have now been consigned to the history books, with the Wolves' 2-1 win over Hertha Berlin on Sunday's the team's third victory in the space of seven days.
"It was a perfect week," said coach Dieter Hecking, whose new signing Kevin De Bruyne has helped instigate the turnaround.
The Belgian attacker has not only given Wolfsburg additional quality on the wings, he has helped ignite increased competition for places and that extra edge appears to be just what the squad needed. "We had a good fighting spirit in the second half and that shows the mentality of this team," De Bruyne told bundesliga.com at the final whistle. "If you win in the end, nobody's going to complain about the game."
Win they did, but the 22-year-old revealed Hecking had been forced to raise his voice during the interval. "We were a bit tired at the beginning, but sometimes that happens," De Bruyne said. "The coach was a little bit angry at half-time. He wanted the team to be more aggressive and we were in the second half. It was a good response to what the coach said."
De Bruyne to get even better
De Bruyne is gradually adjusting to life in Wolfsburg, yet the club's sporting director Klaus Allofs believes the best is yet to come from the Belgian: "Once the settling-in phase is over with, he's going to get even better. It's doing all the players good that we have a different option with Kevin. He speeds our game up and is always looking to be decisive."
One beneficiary is fellow midfielder Daniel Caligiuri, who netted the winner in Berlin on Sunday. "I'm delighted to have finally broken my duck," said the 26-year-old after helping complete a trio of victories in seven days: first against 1. FSV Mainz 05, then 1899 Hoffenheim in the DFB Cup, and finally Hertha.
More to come
Caligiuri repaid Hecking for the faith shown in him in spite of a red card against Schalke on Matchday 19 by staking his claim for a berth in a side which is now brimming with talent, not least in midfield. "The competition for places in my position is really intense," he said. "I'll just do all I can to play as frequently as possible."
Given the performances of De Bruyne and Caligiuri, Hecking is now presented with a selection headache for two tricky upcoming fixtures against Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Bayern München. It is the kind of problem coaches relish, though, especially as it appears to be helping Wolfsburg go from strength to strength. "We've not reached our limit yet," Caligiuri concluded. "We can do a lot more than this."
Andre Anchuelo reporting from the Olympiastadion / Adapted by Ben Gladwell