This past season’s Bundesliga produced a lot of surprises, with teams like Leipzig and Hoffenheim vastly outperforming expectations. However, what their over-performance means is that the usual big teams of the league underperformed. Let’s take a look today at the teams that underperformed.
Leverkusen were probably the biggest disappointment this Bundesliga season outside of Wolfsburg. They not only are one of the biggest clubs in the Bundesliga historically, but also have the financial backing and the players to be performing at the top.
What went wrong for Leverkusen? Well, one thing that comes to mind is their poor home form. While they finished 5th in the league in away form, in the home table they finished in 14th, only 3 spots off the drop. In this league, being able to win at home is crucial, and Leverkusen were unable to do so.
While there were bright spots on the year like the two young German stars Benjamin Henrichs and Kai Havertz, most of their established players were subpar. Chicharito went on an 11 match goalscoring drought, finishing with only 11 goals in the league. Bernd Leno made several high profile mistakes in goal. Hakan Calhanoglu did not exactly impress.
Seems like this season was just a bit of a dud. They got rid of their manager, Roger Schmidt, and have sold Calhanoglu and Toprak. In Schimdt’s place is Heiko Herrlich, a relatively unknown coach who has only been the manager of one Bundesliga club — Vfl Bochum — and only for one disappointing season. What he will be able to do with a star studded Leverkusen is anyone’s guess.
Wolfsburg was undoubtedly the biggest loser of this season. They started the season with Dieter Hecking, the coach who had brought them incredible success several seasons back when Kevin De Bruyne lit up the league and Bas Dost was actually good.
Wolfsburg fired Hecking after a disappointing start to the season, being replaced by Valerien Ismael. Ismael used to play in the Bundesliga not too long ago for several clubs including Bayern. For some reason, Wolfsburg thought it would be a good idea to hire him, even though his only past Bundesliga tenure was for Nurnberg where he only won 28% of his matches.
To be fair to Wolfsburg, he had done a good job with Wolfsburg’s second team. Nevertheless, it’s safe to say his tenure with the first team was a massive failure. Wolfsburg even spent a ton of money over the winter break, buying players like Bazoer and Malli, but the club finished in the relegation playoff spot. They, similar to Leverkusen, have fired their manager and sold some of the deadwood, so they should be one to watch out for next season as well.
Gladbach weren’t nearly as bad as the other two, but still had a poor season by their standards. They started the season with the bald maestro, Andre Schubert. He was fired at the winter break and Monchengladbach replaced him with none other than Dieter Hecking.
Gladbach finished in 9th place, outside of the European spots. Hecking seemed to help things a little, but they still were fairly poor. I think for Gladbach, their squad is just a bit too uninspired, a bit too tired to perform well. While they do have some good players like Lars Stindl, Christoph Kramer and Andreas Christensen, none of those guys are truly proven at the top level. I think perhaps this could be a case of Gladbach overperforming the last few seasons and simply performing to the quality of their squad this year.
It’s not to say they have a bad squad — their squad is probably around the 5th or 6th best in the league, on paper. I just think they would need to sign a few actually proven, good players to come back to the top again, unless they hired another amazing manager like Favre.