When those in charge of VfB Stuttgart opted to pull the plug on Bruno Labbadia’s tenure as the Swabian’s coach this week, it became a mad scramble to find someone to replace him at this late stage of the season. Former Bayern II and Hoffenheim trainer Sebastian Hoeneß landed the job, but he looks to be on a hiding to nothing attempting to save the club from the drop.
The new coach got off to a positive start in midweek as Stuttgart progressed to the semi-final stage of the DFB Pokal with a 1-0 away at 2.Bundesliga side 1.FC Nürnberg. Beating a team ranked 13th in the second tier would have been the minimum expectation, but the real acid test comes on when Stuttgart travel to Bochum in the Bundesliga.
The win over Nürnberg was Stuttgart’s fourth in the cup this season but they have now had four different coaches in charge for each round (and therein tells the tale of their sorry season). Pellegrino Matarazzo took charge of the first round win over Dynamo Dresden whereas interim trainer Michael Wimmer oversaw the second round 6-0 victory over Arminia Bielefeld. Labbadia was in the hotseat for the third-round clash with Paderborn at the end of January, and Hoeneß was in control for this week’s quarter-final.
The new boss has a huge task on his hands to save the Swabians as amongst the teams currently in the relegation fight, they are they one who like devoid of inspiration, ideas or indeed fight. Hoeneß will not have long to prepare his players for the Easter Sunday clash at the Vonovia-Ruhrstadion due to the midweek cup game, and he knows that Bochum will most definitely be up for the fight.
Stuttgart’s away form is abysmal having failed to win at all on the road this season. Indeed, they have taken just five points and their last league win was way back on matchday 15 of last season when they beat Wolfsburg 2-0.
They face Borussia Dortmund at home next weekend, but have tricky away games with Augsburg, Mainz, and Hertha to come. That match with the Berliner could be a massive six-pointer on matchday 31.
The good news for Hoeneß is that key men Borna Sosa and Serhou Guirassy are back from injury, but the new coach still has a mammoth task even with a full squad at his disposal. While not yet exactly ‘Mission Impossible’ it is very much ‘Mission Extremely Difficult’ for the new coach. Relegation-saving specialist Bruno Labbadia couldn’t put the fire out at Stuttgart, what makes the club sure Hoeneß will be able to do so?