Niko Kovac announced the end of attacker Max Kruse without emotion, but firmly. "He won't play any more games for us," said the VfL Wolfsburg head coach after the 1-0 (0-0) win at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
It was the somewhat surprising next chapter of weeks of quarrels about the ex-national player, who actually came in winter to make the Lower Saxony Bundesliga team better. In Frankfurt he was no longer in the squad.
"It's like we made the decision that Max can't help us in this situation," Kovac said. In the past few weeks Kruse had "no impulses and no constructive cooperation", emphasized the coach. Kruse has always been considered a brilliant soloist and less as a team player. The 34-year-old's contract runs until 2023. He can continue to participate in training.
"A decision for the team"
"What we need are players who focus one hundred percent on the club," said sports director Marcel Schäfer. "We didn't see that again with Max." He was told that. "He took note of it. He will not be happy about it," said Schäfer. Kruse didn't really heed the club's motto "work, football, passion". "It's not a decision against you, but one for the team," emphasized Schäfer. The 34-year-old Kruse initially did not comment.
His teammates held back with comments. "It's a coach's decision that we accept. We played as a team today," said VfL goalkeeper Koen Casteels meaningfully. "We have different problems than Max Kruse," said midfielder Maximilian Arnold.
"We worked hard"
However, after the first win of the season, the difficulties have at least become more moderate. "We knew the difficult situation we were in," said Casteels. "It's not all good now, but it wasn't all bad before either." The winning goal was scored by Maxence Lacroix (60th minute).
"We worked self-sacrificingly, but that's just the beginning," said Kovac, who managed to liberate himself at his former place of work. He saved Eintracht from relegation in 2016 and led them to cup victory in 2018.
Sports director Schäfer is not only relieved that the cause Kruse has been clarified, but that the path to success has finally been found. "Winning is quality of life for us," he said. "We want to have this emotional world more often." The next opponent will be 1. FC Union Berlin on the coming matchday. "It was a step in the right direction. The way we played should be the direction of travel for the next few weeks," warned Arnold.