February 19, 2018 / 8:34 PM / in a month

Wolfsburg coach Schmidt resigns after five months

BERLIN (Reuters) - VfL Wolfsburg coach Martin Schmidt resigned on Monday after five months and 22 games in charge and only four days before a key Bundesliga relegation battle against Mainz 05.

Soccer Football - Bundesliga - VfL Wolfsburg vs Bayern Munich - Volkswagen Arena, Wolfsburg, Germany - February 17, 2018 Wolfsburg coach Martin Schmidt gestures REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

The club, announcing the decision in a statement on its website, said it was surprised by Schmidt’s decision but had accepted it reluctantly.

Schmidt, the fourth coach to leave the club since October 2016, was appointed in September. Wolfsburg drew 11 out of their 19 league matches under him with five defeats and three wins.

They also won two matches in the German Cup before losing to Schalke 04 in the quarter-finals.

“We cannot entirely understand his motives,” said chairman Tim Schumacher.

Wolfsburg, who won their only Bundesliga title in 2009, are 14th in the table, two places and one point above Mainz who are in the relegation playoff spot and host the Wolves on Friday.

Sporting director Olaf Rebbe added: “Martin Schmidt wanted to leave the way open for a new coach so that VfL could make sure of retaining top flight status as soon as possible.”

“We would like to have achieved that with him but we couldn’t dissuade him from his decision,” he added.

“I have to admit his decision has disappointed me because he was the coach we really wanted.”

There was no immediate comment from Schmidt himself

It was the eighth coaching change of the Bundesliga season, with two at Wolfsburg and one each at Bayern Munich, Werder Bremen, Cologne, Borussia Dortmund, Hamburg SV and VfB Stuttgart.

Wolfsburg’s hardcore fans staged a protest against the club management during Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at home to runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich, only entering the stadium after 19 minutes and 45 seconds of the first half - a reference to the year in which the club was founded.

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris

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