Magath pins hopes on shopping spree

BERLIN - Coach Felix Magath had imagined VfL Wolfsburg's start to the season quite differently.

Having returned late last season to the team he steered to the 2009 league title and helping them avoid the drop on the very last match day, Magath had hoped for an explosive start to the season.

Instead he saw them embarrassed and eliminated in the first round of the German Cup by fourth division club RB Leipzig and pick up just three points from three league games so far.

As his former club Schalke 04 still struggle to reduce an overmanned squad acquired under Magath, the 58-year-old has gone on another late shopping spree in an effort to quickly turn the tide at Wolfsburg.

Their 4-1 defeat last week to Borussia Monchengladbach seemed to have been the last straw.

Magath had already brought in seven players before then, adding rugged defender Sotiris Kyrgiakos from Liverpool and Hrvoje Cale from Turkey's Trabzonspor.

Brazilian Chris, training with them this week, could become their 10th new player this season.

"I had told my players before the start of the season that I was counting on all of them. I had also told them that if it did not work new players would come in," Magath said on Wednesday.

"Now we did end up having a bad start so we needed reinforcements, because as far as our aim is concerned, qualifying for a European spot, it remains unchanged."

Magath has been a hugely successful Bundesliga coach winning titles with Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg but his stint at Schalke was controversial, most of his transfers failing to deliver.

That will not be the case this year, Magath said, adding the new players' experience would help the team starting on Saturday against plucky Freiburg.

Central defender Kyrgiakos is expected to make an immediate start on the weekend, locking down their fragile back line against the league's top scorer Freiburg's Papiss Demba Cisse.

"We will stand up again very quickly," said former West Ham United midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, another of Magath's signings this summer.

"We should not stick our heads into the sand and say that everything is bad. We have the ability and against Freiburg on Saturday we will do things a lot better."

Champions Borussia Dortmund take on last season's runners-up Bayer Leverkusen, with both teams having one eye on the Champions League group stage starting next month.

Fellow Champions League competitors Bayern Munich, who have not conceded a goal in their last four games in all competitions, travel to lowly Kaiserslautern but could be without winger Arjen Robben, still feeling the effects of a minor groin injury.