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Bundesliga

Bundesliga report card: VfB Stuttgart

Stuttgart's inability to see out matches in the league led to an almighty capitulation that saw the club locked in a relegation dog-fight. They survived this time, but only just.

Three head coaches later, VfB Stuttgart's Bundesliga status was preserved by just five points - they only secured safety with two games left in the season.

Firstly, Bruno Labbadia failed to match expectations, losing his first three games in charge and becoming the earliest managerial casualty of the season.

While Thomas Schneider's start to his tenure as head coach mobilized a resurgence in the camp with only one loss in seven games, a run of nine successive defeats brought an end to his brief reign.

It was relegation-purveyor Huub Stevens - in his sixth stint as a coach in Germany - who steered the club out of the depths and towards some kind of stability.

A goalless draw in Hannover proved to be enough to mathematically stave off relegation.

Ibrahima Traore will leave Stuttgart after an excellent season.

Ibrahima Traore's roaring form in recent months has earned transfer.

Key player

Ibrahima Traore will be wearing another version of white next season at Borussia Mönchengladbach - and his performances at Stuttgart facilitated that move.

The 26-year-old's speed on the wing became a lethal weapon at times for Stevens who utilized the French-born player's pace to good effect on the counter.

Surprise player

In his third season in Germany, Japanese full-back Gotoku Sakai has looked as solid as he's ever been in Stuttgart's defense. Under Stevens especially, Sakai regained confidence to use his excellent speed and stamina to good effect in attack. His best performance arrived in that 0-0 draw at Hannover. Worthy mentions, as well, for Timo Werner and Alexandru Maxim.

Coach

In three categories: Bruno Labbadia was a complete disaster; Thomas Schneider was hit-and-miss; Huub Stevens was a roaring short-term success.

Defining moment

In the context of recovering from failed coaching spells, there could be several defining moments: the European exit at the hands of Rijeka sparked a fine run of form, while the 2-2 draw at home to Braunschweig saw the appointment of Huub Stevens who can be lauded for preserving their top-flight status.

But overall, the late goals conceded across the season proved to be the root of their problems. If matches had ended after 75 minutes, Stuttgart would lie 7th - and in Europe. Weeks before, however, they would even have been fourth.

What's next?

Stevens has departed into the sunset, so the managerial post is up for grabs. Sporting director Fredi Bobic has already dipped into the club's youth ranks for a replacement once before, and that proved to be a mistake, so an external appointment is likely. The collective quality of Ibisevic, Maxim, Werner and Didavi is yet to be maximized, but the loss of Traore has left the club's options slightly weaker.

Grade: F

Only the change of coach - and three clubs with poorer records - prevented relegation. A squad with the resources at their disposal ought to be performing much higher. A real disappointment.