VfB Stuttgart’s American coach Pellegrino Matarazzo admits his job involves psychology as much as coaching football in the fight to keep his club in the Bundesliga.
Matarazzo’s side are second-bottom in the table and four points from safety with 10 matches remaining.
“The battle to avoid relegation is very, very psychological,” he told reporters in a virtual interview.
“There is a lot of pressure. This club is ginormous with a big fan base. You sense the need to win.
“The more pressure you have, the more you have to be a psychologist than a football coach.”
Matarazzo steered Stuttgart to ninth last season in their first year back in Germany’s top flight, but they have struggled this term and are on a nine-game winless streak.
Yet Matarazzo is unwavering.
“If I am not convinced that we will stay in the league then I am not the right guy.
“I’m 100 percent confident this team will get enough points.”
He is adamant despite a torrid season.
A shoulder problem sidelined top-scorer Sasa Kalajdzic for the first half of the campaign.
Injuries and Covid cases meant Matarazzo used 31 players over the first 17 games — the most of any Bundesliga club.
– ‘Rough and bumpy’ –
“We had a rough and bumpy first leg of the season,” he admits. “Without making any excuses, it was just a continuous destabilisation of the squad.”
Typical of their fortunes this term, Stuttgart were leading with five minutes left at Hoffenheim last Friday, only to concede two late goals in a 2-1 defeat.
That followed a 1-1 home draw when visitors Bochum grabbed a 94th-minute equaliser.
“Against Hoffenheim, you sensed the fear of losing set in,” Matarazzo said.
“My approach is to never call it luck — it’s about investing a couple of percent more.
“All we need is a win to get the ball rolling.”
The 44-year-old’s path to coaching in the Bundesliga was unconventional.
Born in New Jersey into an Italian family, Matarazzo’s passion for football was ignited by television highlights of Diego Maradona in his prime for …….