By Oliver Trust
BERLIN, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- Wolfsburg's Mark van Bommel has turned from a doubtful case into a record-setting manager.
After a disappointing pre-season performance and the embarrassing first-round exit in the German Cup, the 44-year-old Dutch became the club's first coach to win the first four season games in the national league.
The wavering team conquered the top of the German league as the only unbeaten side.
Ahead of the Wolves' 2021/2022 Champions League campaign opener against reigning French Champion OSC Lille this Tuesday evening, doors seem open to lead the 2009 German Champion back to glory.
While national league rivals such as Bayern and Dortmund deliver spectacular football, it is Bayern Munich's former aggressive leader counting on a well-oiled team seeking game-control and efficiency.
Far from spectacular football, Van Bommel's Wolfsburg delivers an example of pragmatic sports closing its spaces in the back and midfield.
In addition, the club's strikers such as German international Lukas Nmecha and Dutch international Wout Weghorst seem men of strong nerves clod-bloodily using their chances.
Meanwhile, Van Bommel seems to have convinced the team and club he can make his way in one of Europe's top leagues after two successful years at PSV Eindhoven, ending up second with the record-setting 83 points.
"I was the first coach likely to get fired in the Bundesliga," the 2006 Champions League winner commented.
The turnaround is causing a wave of respect as Bayern's striker star Thomas Mueller and Dortmund advisor Matthias Sammer praise Wolfsburg's values.
Muller called the Wolves "well-oiled and solid" while former German international Sammer spoke of a high, well-balanced quality level and robustness.
"As a Dutch, you always want to play enthusiastic football. That didn't always work with me as a player. But in the end, football is about winning," the Wolfsburg coach said.
As for his current team, Van Bommel is convinced to have formed a squad "that never panics. To have patience doesn't mean you are acting slow. It's about recognizing the right moment to launch attacks."
The former midfielder knows what he is talking about after winning eight national titles, three national Cups, and the Champions League in the shirt of Eindhoven, Barcelona, Milan, and Bayern.
As a player, Van Bommel stood for a robust style always pushing his borders often enough crossing the red line.
As a coach, the Dutch demands full commitment. "I get angry if players don't invest all for the team's benefit," he says.
Wolfsburg's sporting director Marcel Schaefer calls Van Bommel a coach combining a discipline nerd and, with young talents, a caring father.
"He is a leader able to trigger enthusiasm as he subordinates everything to success," Schaefer added.
As for this season's Champions League, Van Bommel is talking about a great chance. Rarely any other group contains four clubs at the same level as group G.
"It's a great chance, but I guess you will hear the same from all of our competitors such as Salzburg, Sevilla, and Lille," the Wolves coach is insisting.
But as it seems, all others currently don't ride the wave the same way as Wolfsburg and Van Bommel. Enditem