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Five Aside

Magath encourages thirst for success

Wolfsburg coach Felix Magath punished his players for underperforming by denying them water during a cross-country run, according to reports.

Earlier this week, SportBild had revealed that Magath emptied most of the players' water bottles during a run through woods after the 3-0 defeat against Bayern Munich a week ago.

The paper quoted Magath as having said: "You don't deserve more water than that after your performance. Share the rest"

In a kicker interview on Thursday, the 59-year-old said he had emptied a few bottles but defended his unusual measure as a team-building exercise.

"It is about the feeling of the team," he said. "I have shown the team a moment from the Bayern match. Diego Benaglio was down on the ground, after Arjen Robben had hit him.

"And what did we do? We stood aside, emotionless. Therefore we gave the players ten bottles to share after the wood run."

SportBild had reported that Magath emptied the majority of 40 water bottles, but he said: "They fell over."

His methods seemed to help his players in their next game against Mainz, in which they produced a more committed performance despite losing. "Against Mainz, it was better," he said. "My aim was not to punish anyone, but to launch a thinking process."

Wolfsburg have taken only five points from their six opening games and lie just two places off the bottom of the league table despite having targeted a top-six finish.

But Magath still believes his team can be a force this season, saying: "We won't throw our targets overboard after just six games. Of course we need more points. Every team can get into relegation trouble, but I am convinced of our qualities."

The 2009 Bundesliga champions sold Mario Mandzukic and Askhan Dejagah - two of their most important players - and Magath said there was no way the club could have kept Mandzukic.

He explained: "From our side, we could not force a contract extension. We made an offer including a success-related component, but could not find common ground. To sell him was a logical decision."

Wolfsburg travel to Magath's old club Schalke as they look to improve their fortunes at the weekend.


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