AMSTERDAM – Suddenly installed as caretaker manager last week, longtime VfL Osnabrück player and coach Joe Enochs is now focused on one thing and one thing only: avoiding relegation from the 2.Bundesliga.
The move came as a surprise to the 39-year-old Northern California native, who had been the Osnabrück II manager. On the drive home from the last reserves match, Enochs was asked by outgoing boss Karsten Baumann and the club's youth director to take the reins until season's end.
For that reason and more, the former Lily Whites captain is viewing this as a survival mission, not a job interview.
"What we talked about was: ‘Let's get this done, get these seven weeks done, get the work done and go from there," Enochs told MLSsoccer.com from Germany. "I have no illusions about next season."
He does, however, have a clear look at the job ahead. With seven matches left, Osnabrück stand 16th, which would put them into a two-leg promotion/relegation playoff with a third-tier Regionalliga outfit.
They are only two points shy of a safety place, but have lost four straight games.
"We are looking to stay up," Enochs said flatly. "The good thing is, I have good players and good character in the team. There are no little fights in the clubhouse; everybody has the same interest in staying up. What's lacking right now is a little hope and momentum. We've got a plan and we're going to follow that plan, and I am more than 100 percent sure we're going to be successful."
To say he remains unsure about his future in this position would be an understatement. Enochs hasn't even begun giving the matter thought, nor did he do so before being asked to sign on for the job.
"To tell you the truth, it never really came to mind," he said. "I don't have the right coaching license to coach in the second Bundesliga. It wasn't my goal, in the near future, to become the first-team coach. But the club needs it, so I want to help out."
With the drop pressure on and plenty of work to do, Enochs says he isn't walking into the job with mind to make a ton of changes.
Tweaks, yes. But a house cleaning? No way.
"It's just little things we need to better," declared Enochs. "I'm not going to be making any drastic cuts. Our problem has been the set pieces. We get a lot of goals scored against us on set pieces, but I'm going to go a step further: Why do we have so many set pieces against us? Obviously, we want to defend set pieces better, but also we want to stop fouling people in dangerous areas."
As for a chance at keeping the post, Enochs clearly is not so much as expecting one.
"I still need two more years of experience," he stated. "I have my B-license. I'm looking to get my A-license later this year, but it's still not the proper license."
Even if demoted after the season, the former Osnabrück skipper will gladly step back into his U-23 coaching role and wait until earning his appropriate level license for another shot at the big office.
A veteran of 13 seasons and a club-record 359 league games for the Lower Saxony side, Enochs now also runs a sports pub in town. All in all, he is deeply connected to the town and to being one of their Purple People Eaters.
"I want to definitely stay with the club," he stated. "I've got so much to learn. And obviously, this place has a special place in my heart."