By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Sport Bild: Wolfsburg - declining to defend Kovac - have decided on ouster

Germany's main sporting tabloid - whilst reporting on a trade of barbs between former VfL Wolfsburg striker Max Kruse and former managing director Jörg Schmadtke - claims that Wolfsburg have already decided to part company with Niko Kovac after the season. 

The separation, per Bild, could come earlier if Kovac's Autostädter don't win a home fixture against Augsburg today. Ralph Hasenhüttl and Matthias Jaissle are touted as potential replacements; both to potentially be installed ahead of next season.  
German football watchers certainly had the sense that - after former Bundestrainer Joachim Löw took a swipe at journeyman striker Max Kruse in a recent interview - the never shy 35-year-old would get his chance to fire back publicly. Kruse's chance came on new podcast co-produced with his former teammate Martin Harnik. The recently retired Kruse and semi-retired Harnik conceived the "Flatterball" pod as a means of ironically noting that neither one of them wished to mince words when it came to the business of football.

Kruse's answer to Löw's claim that he was "simply not good enough" for the modern German national team was fairly muted compared to the words he reserved for current VfL Wolfsburg trainer Niko Kovac. Famously booted off the team by Kovac in the autumn of 2022, Kruse went straight for the jugular when it came time to discuss his former coach. Löw's words were "disrespectful". Kovac, on the other hand, was someone Kruse felt worthy of labelling a "catastrophe".

"There's actually only one coach I would describe as a total catastrophe in terms of character," Kruse said, "Niko Kovac. He [Kovac] has his own special way of shaping a team. I think he wants to show relatively early on that he's 'top dog'. That he's the be all and end all. That's why he sheds players with strong opinions. He's done it at all the clubs he's worked for."

Kruse cited not only himself, but players like Thomas Müller (at Bayern) and Alexander Meier (at Frankfurt). When it came to Wolfsburg players who personally hated Kovac, Kruse (who famously feuded with squad captain Maximilian Arnold) claimed that Luca Waldschmidt, Renato Steffen, and Yannick Gerhardt also wished for Kovac to depart. Gerhardt - the lone remaining player of that supposed trio - has featured surprisingly little under Kovac last year after finding plenty of success last season.

The local Wolfsburger Allgemeine Zeitung contacted former club managing director Jörg Schmadtke for comment on Kruse's words. Schmadtke - who had remained cordial about Kruse's situation when Kovac suspended him - was much more unsparing this time. The 60-year-old administrator wondered aloud if Kruse was a "disturbed" individual, called his former player's comments "shameless bottom-feeding stuff", and even went so far as to say that "Max Kruse talking about character" left him totally perplexed.

Germany's main sporting tabloid contacted the Lower Saxon club directly for comment on Saturday morning. Germany's green company team declined to release a statement of any kind. "Sport Bild" used the occasion to (citing its own internal sources) declare that the administrative team of Marcel Schäfer and Sebastian Schinzielorz have already decided to dispense with Kovac at the end of the season. Wolfsburg's "dead-weight-gaffer" - per Bild - might be done far before that. The paper asserts that Kovac likely won't survive the weekend.

Bundesliga news

Match days

Long reads

Exclusive interviews

Team News

Bundesliga - Leverkusen - Bremen