Following the announcement that Olaf Rebbe would be becoming Town’s new Sporting Director, a position that has been vacated for seven months, I created a short guide explaining who Olaf Rebbe is and what to expect.
Who is Olaf Rebbe?
Olaf Rebbe’s footballing career was cut extremely short due to injury at the age of twenty. Rebbe opted to remain in football and almost immediately, he took up a position at TSV Auetal as their team manager.
After thirteen years in the role, Rebbe switched allegiance to Werder Bremen in which he principally worked as a marketing manager, as well as various other roles.
During this time, he also worked for FIFA, a role in which he worked on football operations for the 2006 World Cup in Germany and the subsequent European Championship in Switzerland.
However, it was during this time in Bremen that Olaf Rebbe met Klaus Allofs. The former West Germany international was a general manager at the time and this relationship between Rebbe and Allofs transcended their time at Werder Bremen.
When Allofs was appointed as Wolfsburg’s new sporting director, Olaf Rebbe quickly followed as Allofs’ executive assistant.
After a year in the role, Olaf Rebbe was appointed as a Director of Football and following Klaus Allofs’ departure from the Volkswagen Arena, Rebbe became Wolfsburg’s Sporting Director.
He held this position for eighteen months until April 2018 following his unsuccessful attempt to hire manager Horst Heldt from Bundesliga rivals Hannover.
Despite his abrupt departure from Wolfsburg, he was appointed as Town’s sporting director on May 19th.
So, what to expect?
As the main part of this short guide, I spoke to Jonathan Walsh, an expert on German football, who offered an insight into what we should expect from this appointment.
Viewing his time at Wolfsburg as a whole, would it be deemed as a success or failure? If it is the latter, how much of that would be attributed to the work Rebbe did?
There’s little doubt it would be deemed as a failure. He took over as director of football in July 2015, following their second-place finish from the 2014-15 season. They might have been incredibly close to knocking Real Madrid out of the Champions League, but that’s also the main highlight of his tenure at Wolfsburg.
Since then it’s been a steady fall until his departure, which probably won’t be met by much sadness from many Wolfsburg fans. There are, of course, many external influences at play and the Volkswagen emissions scandal and the constant rumours around the effect it would have on Wolfsburg were hard to ignore. That said, it’s been a time of turnover and turmoil at the club and that’s perhaps where things have fallen down.
In the transfer market, who are his typical go-to signings? Does he uncover hidden gems or does he look for players much closer to the finished article?
There’s no set player that Rebbe looks for, at least going off of his signings while in the DoF and SD roles at Wolfsburg. You can look at Julian Draxler as a “finished product” or Marvin Stefaniak as someone who came in off the back of a very promising season in 2. Bundesliga. This is probably something that will largely benefit Huddersfield for the time being. While Wagner has his philosophy and ideas, Rebbe won’t be restrictive in terms of only targeting one set group of player.
What is his track record like in the transfer market?
When you look at the names on paper at Wolfsburg, it’s very hard to argue against what Rebbe has done. Julian Draxler, Mario Gomez, Daniel Didavi, Josuha Guilavogui, Yannick Gerhardt, Riechedly Bazoer and John Brooks looks more like a FIFA Career Mode group of players than a list who have largely struggled. The signings have been solid but for whatever reason and the turnover of managers and lack of cohesion seems to be clear, there is something preventing them from clicking.
Do you expect now we’ll see Town scour the Bundesliga more comprehensively for future signings?
I would imagine so. Given Wagner’s background in the league and Rebbe’s recent employment in Germany, it would make sense for them to focus on that area. Wagner has had particular success with Stuart Webber and their work in the lower leagues but to establish Huddersfield in the Premier League it would make sense to look to a higher calibre of player.
Finally, do you see Rebbe as a good fit and a good foil for David Wagner and Huddersfield Town?
If Wagner is happy and Hoyle is happy, then there is real reason for the Town fans to be happy. Hoyle has put his full faith in Wagner and the town of Huddersfield have put their full faith in Hoyle. It’s a great relationship and one would hope that a more trusting and patient environment than that of Wolfsburg will bring out the best in Rebbe, who is still young and learning the trade.
Whilst this has primarily been an informative guide, there will be a subsequent piece that looks at the broader implications of the move and our verdict on the appointment of Olaf Rebbe.