Seldom has a coach made a bigger impact in the Bundesliga than Giovanni Trapattoni in his time at FC Bayern München. And, after seeking his fortune elsewhere over the past seven years, it is little surprise one of the Bundesliga's all-time favourites was welcomed back to the division with open arms - even it was by Bayern's rivals VfB Stuttgart.
Compared to recent campaigns, Stuttgart endured a disappointing season last year culminating in Matthias Sammer's departure. Now Trapattoni, who steered SL Benfica to the 2004/05 Portuguese championship, has the tough task of reviving the club's fortunes after signing a two-year contract at the Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion.
Despite having collected a German league and cup title in two earlier spells with Bayern, the 66-year-old is best remembered for his infamous run-in with a posse of journalists which led to his resignation.
But Trapattoni is keen to prove he still has what it takes to take the German club back into the big time. "I am back," Trapattoni told the media on his appointment as Stuttgart coach. "Last time I said I was finished but now I am proud to be VfB coach."
He certainly has his work cut out. The former FC Internazionale Milano, Juventus FC, AC Milan, Benfica and the Italian national coach brings high expectations to the Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion. He made his job even more difficult by proclaiming he would lure the likes of Luís Figo, Javier Saviola and Christian Vieri to Stuttgart. "The sky is the limit," Trapattoni said.
The reality, however, is different. Not only has he so far failed to tempt any world class stars to Stuttgart, he also has found himself with something of a rebuilding programme on his hands after the departures of key players such as Kevin Kuranyi and Aliaksandr Hleb to FC Schalke 04 and Arsenal FC. Once the squad is complete he must then set about convincing the supporters he can get his side playing the kind of attractive football which disappeared during Sammer's reign.
"My major priority will be to do a good job," said Trapattoni. "I will try to make the team play better than last season and hopefully we can achieve some success." At 66, many supporters have their doubts the Italian, who has a reputation for being something of a cautious coach, will change his entire football philosophy in his two-year spell - but that does not mean he cannot build a successful team.
In his earlier days with Bayern, Trapattoni was much admired for his charisma but criticised in certain quarters for his defensive tactics. Back home, they even call him 'Il Tedesco' (the German) because of his passion to look for safety first. However, Stuttgart's new coach is adamant he will make a success of what many believe will be his final challenge in football.
On his arrival he proclaimed that he did not want to be remembered for his past exploits but for the challenges which lay before him. His aim is to guide a young ambitious team to success and, in his own word, "turn VfB into one of the most important clubs in Europe." This may be the biggest challenge of his career so far but, if he keeps his occasional lapses in press conference to a minimum, few would back against him steering Stuttgart to success.
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