Martin Schmidt has stepped down as head coach of relegation-threatened Bundesliga side Wolfsburg.
An injury-time penalty from Robert Lewandowski gave Bayern Munich a 2-1 win over Wolfsburg on Saturday in what proved to be Schmidt’s final game in charge.
Despite encouraging signs in that battling performance, the 2014-15 runners-up have only four league wins to their name all season.
The club released a statement saying they were surprised at Schmidt’s resignation, which he told them was done “to bring fresh impetus to the side” and to “relieve the increasing public pressure on the club and himself.”
“Internally we were all of the firm belief that we would turn things around together,” Wolfsburg managing director Dr. Tim Schumacher said in a statement. “That’s why this move from Martin Schmidt came to us as a surprise that we hadn’t predicted, especially as we can’t fully comprehend his motives.
“We thank Martin Schmidt for his work and wish him all the best both in his career and private life.”
The club’s sporting director Olaf Rebbe echoed Schumacher’s comments, voicing support for Schmidt but that he could not be talked out of his decision.
“Martin Schmidt wants his resignation to pave the way for VfL to ensure survival as soon as possible with a new head coach,” Rebbe said. “We would’ve liked to have achieved this target with him, but we couldn’t dissuade him from his decision. We have to respect this firm stance, although I have to admit it disappoints me – particularly as he was the coach we wanted for the club.”
They are now looking for their third head coach of the campaign, with former Mainz boss Schmidt having stepped in on the back of Andries Jonker’s sacking last September.
Wolfsburg are 14th in the table, a point above third-bottom Mainz, who they face in their next Bundesliga fixture on Friday.
The 2016-17 season also saw the club use three different head coaches, with Jonker succeeding Dieter Hecking and Valerien Ismael and needing a relegation play-off victory over Eintracht Braunschweig to preserve top-flight status.