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Völler factor lifts Leverkusen

Published: Thursday 22 September 2005, 12.51CET
Rudi Völler has put Bayer 04 Leverkusen's season back on track since taking over as caretaker coach but is unwilling to remain in charge permanently.
by Mark Bennett
from Cologne
 
 
Published: Thursday 22 September 2005, 12.51CET

Völler factor lifts Leverkusen

Rudi Völler has put Bayer 04 Leverkusen's season back on track since taking over as caretaker coach but is unwilling to remain in charge permanently.

Rudi Völler has put Bayer 04 Leverkusen's season back on track with two wins since taking over as caretaker manager, but the former Germany coach is unwilling to remain in charge permanently.

Augenthaler exit
The Bundesliga side had taken only four points from their first four league matches and slipped to a 1-0 home defeat by PFC CSKA Sofia in their UEFA Cup first-round first leg. With the 2002 UEFA Champions League finalists lying in 12th place in Germany's top flight and an early exit from Europe looming, the club decided to part company with coach Klaus Augenthaler and call on sporting director Völler to help revive the campaign.

Instant agreement
Völler immediately accepted the coaching role on a temporary basis, saying: "I was asked to do the job and I accepted. If Leverkusen feel they need my help on the training pitch and on the bench right now, then I won't let the club down."

'Dedication and ambition'
The 45-year-old went on to demand "dedication and ambition" from the side that had disappointed in earlier games, and the Völler factor paid instant dividends. For his first match last Sunday, he changed formation, switching from Augenthaler's favoured back four to a three-man defence.

Decisive change
Ahmed Madouni, Carsten Ramelow and Juan looked rock solid in the 3-1 win at MSV Duisburg, particularly in the second half, but what won the game for Leverkusen was Athirson's move into midfield. The Brazilian was involved in the play which led to goals for Juan and Dimitar Berbatov before scoring the third with a beautiful strike.

Change of fortune
Under Völler, luck has also returned to Leverkusen. The Ruhr club were by no means the better team in Wednesday night's 2-1 home victory against 1. FC Köln but they were cleverer and enjoyed some good fortune. With Leverkusen 1-0 up through Andriy Voronin, Köln almost equalised but Youssef Mokhtari's effort struck the post and Leverkusen went on to take three points which lifted them into fifth position.

'Right coach'
Despite his success, former German international Völler is adamant he will not prolong his stay on the touchline unnecessarily, with Saturday's trip to Werder Bremen likely to be his last assignment. "I am not willing to do the job for the rest of the season," Völler said. "I am doing it out of loyalty to the club. I will do it until we have found the right coach to take over."

Sammer targeted
Matthias Sammer is favourite to succeed Augenthaler having left VfB Stuttgart in the summer after failing to gain Champions League qualification. Yet despite Sammer being expected to take the Leverkusen helm after the Bremen game, Michael Skibbe and Peter Neururer have also been linked with the BayArena job.

Sofia calling
However, Leverkusen fans and officials seem keen for Völler to stay, at least until after the return leg of the UEFA Cup tie at CSKA Sofia. Managing director Wolfgang Holzhäuser insisted: "Rudi Völler is an icon and I would be silly not to do everything I can to persuade him to continue." With the team up against it, the Völler factor would surely boost Leverkusen's chances of reaching the competition's group stage.

 
Last updated: 10/10/05 10.15CET

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