In this Edition of The Talking Game, we have VfL Wolfsburg’s sporting director Mr. Klaus Allofs speaking to us, about Wolfsburg’s aspirations, the future of Swiss sensation Ricardo Rodriguez, Germany’s strike options and more.
Klaus Allofs has for long been a key figure in German football, right from captaining the national team in 1986-87 to helping FC Köln to near European glory. After retiring as a player in 1993, he took up the managerial reigns at Fortuna Düsseldorf but couldn’t save them from relegation to the 3. Liga.
Allofs then went on to become the Sporting Director at Werder Bremen, where he formed a renowned partnership with head coach Thomas Schaaf, helping the club to domestic glory. After a ten year stay in Bremen, Allofs bid farewell as he took over as Sporting Director of VfL Wolfsburg. The former German international talks to us about Wolfsburg’s aspirations, the future of Ricardo Rodriguez and a lot more.
Q: Wolfsburg have failed to live up to expectations (with regards to the size of the team and transfer budget) over the past few seasons, but the tide seems to be turning now. Are Wolfsburg finally realizing their potential?
Allofs: “I don’t think it’s the case that VfL didn’t previously recognise their own potential, but rather more there was simply a lack of continuity. The situation now is that together, we have calmly, but also with the required consistency, improved the things that were not ideal, whilst also maintaining the aspects that were working. We have come along positively in that manner, developing further in many areas and introducing more consistency in the day-to-day procedures, which not only the team but rather the whole club benefits from. Our goal is to improve step-by-step. That requires time and patience, which is something you cannot force to happen overnight.”
Q: Kevin de Bruyne, Luis Gustavo, Ivan Perisic – the list of big names arriving is really growing. Is that a trend that we can expect to see over the next few years? Could you give us a few names that you would love to bring to the club?
Allofs: “It’s not about signing big names! Our goal has always been to construct a team consisting of the ideal blend of young, talented players from within our own ranks and new signings with top sporting quality. As far as the second part of your question is concerned, I don’t speak about players who could be interesting for VfL Wolfsburg – out of respect for those player’s clubs and of course the players themselves. It’s only when a transfer has been completed, and all parties are agreed, that you can then speak about those things.”
Q: What do you hope for Wolfsburg to achieve in the future?
Allofs: “We want to be involved in international competition in the not too distant future. In addition to that, it is our target to build a team that can be sustainably successful.”
Q: What is your opinion of the youth structure at Wolfsburg, when compared to that of other clubs in Germany? Are there any other youngsters we should be keeping an eye out for?
Allofs: “Our youth academy is one of the very best in Germany and it was recently accredited with the best possible result from the German Football Federation. We currently have two German junior internationals in Maximilian Arnold and Robin Knoche, who are regulars in our starting eleven. Aside from them, we have some other extremely promising, talented youngsters in Moritz Sprenger and Paul Seguin, who are both on their way up. They are well worth keeping an eye on.”
Q: Ricardo Rodriguez has been linked with a move away from the Volkswagen Arena. How likely is it that Wolfsburg can hold on to him? How important is he to the side?
Allofs: “Ricardo is having a very strong season and has made massive developments over the past year. He is a vitally important pillar of our team, although he is just 21 years old. Most importantly though, Ricardo feels very happy at VfL, so we have never given the idea of letting him go a moment’s thought. When a young player is performing well, transfer rumours are a normal thing. Neither he or we are influenced by that at all.”
Q: Dieter Hecking has done really well at the club. How highly does the board rate him and is he the man to take the club to the next level?
Allofs: “Dieter Hecking and his coaching team have done exceptional work and they fit in perfectly here at VfL Wolfsburg. Since he arrived in December 2012, the footballing standards of our team have continually improved and the lads have become a solid unit both off as well as on the pitch. We are, and always were, convinced of Dieter Hecking’s ability, otherwise we wouldn’t have signed him up.”
Q: Could you explain to us the role of a sporting director in running a club? How much of a say do coaches/managers have in the transfers that a club undertakes?
Allofs: “As the Director of Sport, I am responsible for all decision made at VfL Wolfsburg on a sporting level. Of course I work together with the head-coach too. We have regular exchanges, we discuss all the relevant topics and come to an agreement together before any decision is made.”
Q: Who would you consider to have been the best buy ever in your career as a sporting director?
Allofs: “I can’t and won’t pick out any specific individual here. The decisive element in making a transfer is that the new signing slots into the team well and that, with the new man, the team becomes better and more successful on the whole. It’s those factors which demonstrate just how good a new signing has been.“
Q: Being a striker yourself, you’re probably going to be an expert in answering this! Why is there this dearth of strikers in Germany? Who would you expect to be heading the front line for the German national team at the World Cup?
Allofs: “It is true that in German football there have always been absolutely exceptional strikers. Every generation has had strikers who totally characterised the Bundesliga and the national team during their era. I really can’t say why that is the case. We’ll have to wait and see just who comes to the forefront in the German national team this summer. I certainly don’t want to step on Joachim Löw’s toes there. There are definitely a number of German strikers who have the potential.”
TheHardTackle would like to thank Klaus Allofs and VfL Wolfsburg for doing the interview