Sven Mislintat is not suspected of being particularly superstitious.

So it was not a bad omen for the sports director of the Bundesliga soccer club VfB Stuttgart that the sun did not shine as prescribed for the first few days in southern Spain, where the people of Stuttgart gathered for a six-day training camp this week.

At times, the rain clouds hung so low over Marbella that the actually enchantingly beautiful view from the training ground to the Pico de la Concha, a shell-like peak in the Sierra Blanca mountain range, remained blocked.

They are not there to relax, Mislintat says on the phone, but to work.

And VfB will need this very sober, rational world view in the coming weeks in order not to be relegated from the top division.

Because the uncomfortable weather certainly offered the right setting for the sporting situation of the traditional club.

The bad phases during the preliminary round have now solidified into a sporting crisis, the third relegation within six years is imminent.

Stuttgart is in 17th place - three points short of 15th place, which guarantees another season in the Bundesliga at the end of the season.

The atmosphere at and around VfB is still surprisingly relaxed.

"It's quiet even though we're 17th," notes Mislintat.

He sounds a little surprised himself.

Perhaps the new calm is also due to the fact that due to the pandemic, only VfB employees were recently allowed into the home arena, so the notorious "Bruddler", as the naggers are called in Swabian, could not whistle shrilly in the main stand.

Stress test for Mislintat and Hitzlsperger

This calm in the environment is also a stress test for Mislintat and the outgoing CEO Thomas Hitzlsperger. In the remaining 14 games, they can now check how sustainable the new strategic orientation and new modesty really is, which they have campaigned so forcefully in recent years in order to regain the trust that sponsors have lost.

Mislintat has therefore often proclaimed SC Freiburg as a role model for VfB Stuttgart.

He is impressed by his personal continuity without financial adventures and the goal of training young hungry players and developing them for the highest possible level.

A relegation in Freiburg means: nothing.

At the SC they just carry on as before.

And in Stuttgart?

Mislintat himself is curious about what would happen if VfB missed out on staying in the class.

"Then it will be seen whether our path will be accepted by everyone," says the 49-year-old.

That would be the case if he and head coach Pellegrino Matarazzo were allowed to continue anyway.

Mislintat, the former scout of Borussia Dortmund, is convinced of this path with unfinished but highly talented professionals and sees it as the only chance that VfB can one day think about other goals than staying in the class.

The Westphalian has been working in Württemberg for two and a half years.

And of course it's difficult to convey the fact that he's emulating a Baden club of all things.

"But so far we've done a good job of explaining why we're doing it all."

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