German Bundesliga

Wolfsburg axe Steve McClaren

February 7, 2011
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Former England manager Steve McClaren has been sacked by German side VfL Wolfsburg following a string of poor results.

Steve McClaren
GettyImagesSteve McClaren: Five wins in 21 games.

McClaren joined Wolfsburg after winning the Dutch Eredivisie title with Twente Enschede in 2010 but was sacked following Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Hannover 96.

The result leaves the club 12th in the Bundesliga, just one point above the relegation zone, but McClaren has been left with "a bad taste in the mouth" as player power may have contributed to his dismissal.

McClaren instructed Wolfsburg striker Patrick Helmes, who came off the bench against Hannover, to take penalties but his orders were ignored by Brazilian playmaker Diego, who demanded the ball and then slammed the 78th-minute spot-kick against the crossbar.

After his side failed to score from the spot, McClaren said: "A decision had been made, the team knew, Helmes knew, everybody knew. Everyone knew the situation the moment it was given. We were sure Helmes would take the penalty. The result and how it happened has left a bad taste in the mouth."

Diego remained unrepentant: "I don't know what is wrong, I have taken penalties before. I don't see any problem."

McClaren managed five wins, eight draws and eight defeats in his 21 games at the helm, but had secured just one win in the last 11 games.

The former Middlesbrough manager almost lost his job before Christmas but was allowed to reinvest part of the £27 million received from Manchester City for Edin Dzeko on six reinforcements. They include Helmes, bought from Bayer Leverkusen last week for £7.5 million and who is seen as a replacement for the Bosnian striker, and Tuncay Sanli, bought from Stoke City.

Pierre Littbarski, McClaren's former assistant, has been named as his replacement.

Wolfsburg chief executive Dieter Hoeness said: "We were not convinced that we could have a stable collaboration with Steve McClaren until the end of the season. We tried it, but unfortunately we have now lost the belief.

"Following the recent negative results we cannot underestimate our situation in the table. Being only one point clear of the relegation places, we are alarmed. Now it's just a question of increasing the gap to the relegation places as soon as possible."

Explaining Littbarski's elevation to the hot seat, Hoeness added: "We talked at great length with him. He has convinced us that he will take the necessary measures in our situation."

Wolfsburg chairman Dr Francisco Javier Garcia Sanz claimed the club gave McClaren every opportunity to turn their season around, but in the end were forced to act with the Yorkshireman just nine months into a two-year contract.

"We have not seen any alternative," he said. "Of course we all want to see continuity, particularly in the coaching position. Therefore, we have been waiting a long time with the decision.

"The supervisory board and management now believes, however, that the team cannot continue under Steve McClaren."