Mon, May 25, 2009
Sports > Soccer

Magath leaves Wolfsburg in good health

2009-05-25 09:21:09 GMT2009-05-25 17:21:09 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

Wolfsburg's Christian Gentner, left, and Sascha Riether celebrate with the the trophy after the German first division Bundesliga soccer match between VfL Wolfsburg and Werder Bremen in Wolfsburg, Germany, on Saturday, May 23, 2009. Wolfsburg beat Bremen by 5-1 and has won its first German soccer championship ever. (AP Photo/Fabian Bimmer)

Wolfsburg's Josue holds the trophy as he celebrates with the team after winning the German first division Bundesliga soccer match between VfL Wolfsburg and Werder Bremen in Wolfsburg, Germany, Saturday, May 23, 2009. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

BERLIN: Felix Magath led Wolfsburg to their maiden Bundesliga title on Saturday and admitted he will now find it hard to leave the German champions, but insisted the team are capable of defending their crown.

Wolfsburg's 5-1 win over Werder Bremen means they finish the season two points clear of second-placed Bayern Munich at the top of the table.

Magath, who took over in January 2007, now leaves the champions to take over as coach and team manager at Schalke 04 and says the team he has forged is capable of retaining their crown.

"I think that VfL will be in the running for the title in the future too," said a delighted Magath.

"We have put together a young and hungry team with fantastic prospects.

"It's a dream, I never believed we had the chance to win the title, but the boys deserve it.

"And leaving now will be very difficult."

Magath said the key victory in capturing their first Bundesliga crown was the 3-0 win over Borussia Dortmund on May 12 which injected some much-needed confidence following their shock 4-1 defeat at Stuttgart the weekend before.

"The game against Dortmund was the turning point," said Magath.

"Just three days after we'd been beaten in Stuttgart, that was certainly a crucial point.

"That gave the team some real self-confidence and it's exactly that confidence that we took into the Bremen game."

Unheralded Wolfsburg, founded in the grim aftermath of World War II and cursed by a history of mediocrity, have secured not just their maiden crown as German champions but also their first place in the Champions League.

Traditional powerhouses Bayern can only look on in envy.

Magath is having the last laugh over the Bavarian giants after they dismissed him two years ago.

Despite leading Bayern to back-to-back league and cup doubles, Magath was sacked in February 2007 with his side near the top of the league.

While Bayern won the league and cup double again last season, Wolfsburg slipped under the radar to finish in a respectable fifth and reach the UEFA Cup.

It was an astonishing turnaround for a club who were just one place above relegation in the preceding seasons.

Before this year, Wolfsburg's biggest achievement had been when they finished runners-up in the 1995 German Cup.

But it has been a vastly different story this term.

While Bayern eventually sacked coach Jurgen Klinsmann on April 27, after just ten months in charge, Wolfsburg were enjoying an 11-game unbeaten run.

(Agencies)

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