Bon first listening it sounded very cool and emotionless. The manner in which Niko Kovac announced the resignation of Max Kruse proclaimed, almost eliciting a little pity. "Max won't make a game for us anymore," said the straightforward coach about the idiosyncratic player. What exactly no longer fits together will certainly be discussed in the next few days.
Kruse should still be welcome in everyday training at VfL Wolfsburg. As a professional in the Bundesliga team, he no longer plays a role. It doesn't take clairvoyant abilities to guess that the last big bang in the relationship triangle between club, coach and player is yet to come. In any case, on Sunday Kruse spoke up and took care of the next chapter.
The right term is debatable. Has the employee Kruse put himself on the sidelines? Or is it a nasty suspension? In any case, it was important for Kovac, who had come under pressure after several weeks without a win, to make a public statement. Announcing the elimination of Kruse during a live TV interview and in the press conference after the 1-0 win at Eintracht Frankfurt to manifest again, that should probably also be a signal of strength. Kovac attaches great importance to team spirit, discipline and fitness.
By his own admission, Kruse loves Nutella, shisha bars, poker, racing cars and as colorful a life as possible. What didn't work between people had also fallen on rather thin ice within the company. The slightly different image of Kruse, who presents himself in a variety of ways on the Internet, does not fit the values of VfL Wolfsburg at all. Kruse's self-perception remains strange. On the Youtube channel "The Kruses"who entertainingly stages the 34-year-old and his wife, he presents himself as a footballer in his prime. The truth on the pitch was different recently.
Kruse ran after the ball, the expectations and his own claim. After five games without assists or own goals Kovac took a closer look at what Kruse can and likes to deliver. The most recent exchange of views between Kovac and Kruse, which VfL managing director Jörg Schmadtke had scheduled as a kind of mediation, only had a brief effect.
The club's management will now have to consider how to proceed in terms of labor law. According to his employment contract, Kruse is still entitled to salary payments until the summer of 2023. And every further, public dispute slows down the club and team on the hoped-for path to the top.
There has recently been no sign of solidarity between Kruse and the rest of the squad. After the victory in Frankfurt, Maximilian Arnold spoke up. "We have different problems than Max Kruse," said the captain. Last season, Kruse was a support because he drew everyone's attention and led the way.
What worked under former coach Florian Kohfeldt no longer works under new leadership – or is no longer in demand. "No impulses, no constructive cooperation" - with this assessment of Kruse, Kovac now drew a line. From his point of view, this is the end of the Kruse chapter in the Bundesliga. It was unthinkable that the scolded player would accept this without complaint. And so he spoke up on Sunday.
Kruse rejected the accusation of a lack of identification with the club and announced that he would continue his career in the Bundesliga. In one on his Instagram account published video the 34-year-old explained to respect the opinion of coach Kovac.
"But I think everyone who knows me knows that not only at VfL Wolfsburg, but in the last ten or twelve years that I've been playing professional football, when I've been on the pitch, I've always given everything for the club, I played for,” said the offensive player. It will stay that way as long as he is allowed to train and play football.
When the Sky reporter asked Kovac whether this was the end of a great Bundesliga career, Kovac answered succinctly: "Yes." Kruse contradicted this at the end of his video clip. "I think I'll decide for myself when my time in the Bundesliga is over. Nobody else decides that for me,” he emphasized.
As proof of his identification with VfL Wolfsburg, he cited his commitment to the club after moving from Union Berlin in the second half of last season. "I came to Wolfsburg in January to help the team. And I think that's what I did last second half of the season," he said.