Martin Schmidt handed reigns at Wolfsburg
Photo: VfL Wolfsburg.

VfL Wolfsburg made the Bundesliga’s first managerial sacking on the season on Monday morning as they parted company with Andries Jonker after just seven months in charge.

However within hours that had confirmed the appointment of former 1. FSV Mainz 05 coach Martin Schmidt as his replacement.

The 50-year-old has signed a contract until 2019, and has had just one training session ahead of their next match against Werder Bremen on Tuesday.

Wolfsburg act quickly to bring in Schmidt

Schmidt had left Mainz at the end of last season after narrowly escaping relegation, finishing above the Wolves on goal difference alone. He had had a positive impact though on the club when he replaced Kasper Hjulmand in early 2015, and led them into the UEFA Europa League after a sixth-place finish in his first full season.

Wolfsburg were pleased that they could have Schmidt in place so quickly after Saturday’s defeat to VfB Stuttgart, which proved to be Jonker’s last chance after a disappointing start to the season. Club manager Tim Schumacher said that he is “the right man for the task that lies ahead of us.”

Schmidt, who confirmed he had turned down Wolfsburg whilst still at Mainz, said that “only a few hours passed between our initial contact and signing the control”, but he felt it was a no brainer. “I am really looking forward to this challenge,” he added, “although we don’t have much time,” before their next two matches.

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An indifferent start enough for Wolves’ management to let Jonker go

The defeat to Stuttgart had been just Wolfsburg’s second of the season, having beaten Eintracht Frankfurt and drawn against high-flying Hannover 96. However, according to club spokesman Wolfgang Hotze, the decision to let Jonker go was “based upon the perception of stagnated development amongst the team,” despite the fact it had been mostly “newly formed during the summer.”

Jonker took charge of the club in late February as the club’s third head coach of the season, and despite a positive start the ultimately finished in the dreaded relegation play-off spot. They were able to secure their Bundesliga status now with victories in both legs of the tie against Eintracht Braunschweig.

Jonker’s assistants Uwe Speidel and Fredrik Ljungberg, along with his match analyst Jan van Loon, have also left the club. Schmidt will be assisted by ex-Karlsruher SC II coach Stefan Sartori, a former colleague at Mainz, whilst Andreas Hilfiker, Stephan Kerth and Michele Putaro will remain part of the set-up.

Schmidt has little time to get used to his new surroundings. Following Bremen, he will have to then take his new side to Bayern Munich on Friday night, before Wolfsburg host his former side Mainz ahead of the international break.

Quotes via VfL Wolfsburg.