They shout, laugh and get angry like at a (successful) children’s birthday party. The training impressions that VfB Stuttgart are sharing on their social media these days are not evidence of a team in a relegation battle. Either the images are misleading or this is actually a childishly innocent team that cannot be harmed by looking into the abyss of the second division.
The situation remains difficult for VfB. It is 17th in the league, which would mean direct relegation and a small disaster for the club. But even relegation place 16, which is held by hopelessly wobbly Hertha Berlin, is just one point behind. The Stuttgart team want to make up for it on Saturday when they play 1. FC Union at the Alte Försterei.
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The childhood euphoria certainly comes from last Saturday. It didn’t take long to play against Borussia Mönchengladbach when Sven Mislintat fidgeted on the Stuttgart bench. Once again his team had put in a great game, but once again it seemed that it would not be enough to win before the young Austrian Sasa Kalajdzic fired like an old man to make it 3: 2. The VfB was 0:2 set. back. Mislintat was one of the first to jump off the bench and raise his fists to the sky, what a relief.
Juvenile carelessness too often leads to disgrace
The 49-year-old is the secret star of the club. His nickname in the scene is diamond eye because he has a keen eye for special talents, he has already signed players that nobody knew about and who could be sold a year or two later for horrendous transfers. The problem: this business model is hardly compatible with the battle for relegation. Experience and fighting power are considered the best recipes to stay in football. But what did Mislintat do when requests for proven transfers in the Bundesliga like Freiburg’s eternal prankster Nils Petersen became noisy? He loaned 19-year-old Tiago Tomas from Sporting Lisbon in January (with option to buy).
The question many observers were asking: is Mislintat about the club or about itself? Does the man just want to prove that he hasn’t lost his diamond eye yet and sign the next potential star instead of building a stable team ready for the relegation battle?
Because no matter how talented the Mislintat-designed team may be, the many narrow defeats in recent weeks may also be due to the fact that all too often, in the end, youthful carelessness still leads to disgrace, while, for example, in League rival FC Augsburg, who are also in danger of relegation, veteran Daniel Caligiuri celebrated his second spring.
But in football, a moment, an action like Kalajdzic’s goal for 3-2, can be enough to turn the emotional world on its head. A week ago, Stuttgart, as they say in football parlance, still had shit on their feet. Now a team plays at 1. FC Unión, where you can’t imagine at this moment that they will start in the second division next season. And Sven Mislintat? According to recent games, he has signed a real top in the Portuguese Tiago Tomas.