McClaren sacked by Wolfsburg as Bundesliga adventure comes to an end

Former England manager Steve McClaren was yesterday fired by German side Wolfsburg. The 2009 Bundesliga champions parted ways with the ex-Middlesbrough boss after a 1-0 defeat by Hannover 96 on Saturday that left Die Wolfe 12th in the table and one point away from the relegation zone.

McClaren’s final game in charge of the Volkswagen-owned side was marred by the controversy over Diego’s missed penalty. The Brazilian midfielder ignored team orders to leave spot-kicks to striker Patrick Helmes and stepped up himself, only to blaze over the crossbar from 12 yards, condemning Wolfsburg to another defeat in a run that has seen one victory in 11 games. Diego was fined a reported €100 000 for his insubordination and following the match general manager Dieter Hoeness said: “Because of that we were beaten in a match that we should never have lost.” After the sacking of McClaren, Hoeness added: “We were no longer sure that we could work with Steve McClaren until the end of the season with some stability. We have tried to make things work for as long as possible, but we have lost faith that we can bring success.” World Cup 1990 winner Pierre Litbarski has been named as McClaren’s successor.

Becoming the first Englishman to coach in the Bundesliga when he replaced caretaker Lorenz-Gunther Kostner in May 2010, McClaren moved to Germany after guiding FC Twente to an unprecedented Eredivisie title in his second season in charge of the Netherlands club, following a runner-up finish to AZ Alkmaar in his inaugural campaign. The success initially enjoyed by the 49-year-old on the continent was a far cry from his time as England manager, when from his 18 games the Three Lions managed just nine wins. But the former Manchester United assistant struggled to replicate the achievements from his time in Holland across the border in Germany, winning five games and losing eight of the 21 Wolfsburg played under his tenure. McClaren was criticised for a lack of tactical understanding as his Wolfsburg side flitted from formation to formation without settling on a way of playing, and The Guardian’s Germany correspondent Raphael Honigstein described their 3-0 defeat by Borussia Dortmund in late January as “embarrassing.”

The disappointing results in Germany came despite a summer spending spree that saw in-demand Danish centre-back Simon Kjaer, German international Arne Friedrich and the weekend’s centre of debate, former Juventus playmaker Diego, all move to the Volkswagen Arena. But McClaren’s position was in doubt long before the axe finally fell on Monday afternoon. Before Christmas Hoeness was non-committal over McClaren’s future while German daily newspaper Bild christened McClaren ‘Steve McSiege-Weg’, translated as Steve McWinsGone after Wolfsburg were eliminated from the German Cup by second division side Energie Cottbus. As early as September, after three defeats to start the season, McClaren was faced with questions over his future. Then, he said: “Of course there is pressure, there’s always pressure to win football games. But I don’t feel enormous pressure after three defeats.” Eventually, it took nine defeats, the last of which marked by Diego’s missed penalty, to cost the first Englishman to win a major league title since 1991 his job.

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