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Scharfer Start

Morgen beginnt für den 1. FC Magdeburg der Pflichtspielalltag der neuen Saison. Statt zum Auftakt wie im Spielplan vorgesehen den Regionalligakonkourrenten FSV Zwickau zu empfangen, wird morgen allerdings der FC Energie Cottbus zu Gast sein – in der ersten Runde des DFB-Pokals. Ein unglückliches Los, das den Elbestädtern da beschert wurde, denn Cottbus ist nicht eben ein Zuschauermagnet, dazu ist der Verein, obwohl Zweitligist, dem Magdeburger Publikum einfach zu unbedeutend. Diese relative Bedeutungslosigkeit verringert die Chancen des Ausscheidens allerdings nicht, so dass man sich höchstwahrscheinlich mit einem Erstrundenaus vor vielleicht 14.000 Zuschauern anfreunden müssen wird.

Zwar bestehen auch gegen höherklassige Mannschaften immer Chancen auf große und kleine Wunder, allein, ich halte es für hochgradig unwahrscheinlich, dass Energie den Club unterschätzen wird, da sie schließlich in den letzten beiden Jahren jeweils in Runde eins rausflogen. Daran ändert auch die Tatsache nichts, dass Cottbus-Trainer Rudi Bommer bei der Pressekonferenz vor dem Spiel mehrfach äußerte seine Mannschaft spiele „vier Klassen“ höher…

Letztlich ist der DFB-Pokal ja auch nur eine Zugabe für diese Saison, auch wenn unter den Fans das nicht ganz ernstgemeinte Ziel Tiflis 2015 kursiert,1 wichtiger sind Liga und Landespokal.

In der Liga heißt das Saisonziel offiziell sich etablieren, also mindestens die Platzierung des Vorjahres wiederholen. Ich persönlich halte das für unsinnige Tiefstapelei, die mir andererseits in Anbetracht der Ergebnisse der Vorbereitung und des dort gezeigten Fußballs schon wieder angebracht erscheint. In meinen Augen hat die Mannschaft durchaus das Potenzial, deutlich besser abzuschneiden als Platz 6, wird aber durch mir nicht erklärliche taktische Entscheidungen, die von Aufstellung bis zur Spielweise reichen, daran gehindert, dieses Potenzial voll auszureizen.

Wie schon in der Vorsaison war in den wenigsten Testspielen der Wille zum Pressing erkennbar und bis auf das Spiel gegen Hamburg konnten einigermaßen gleichwertige Gegner auch nicht kontrolliert werden. So gingen diese Spiele auch allesamt verloren, egal ob der Gegner Viktoria Köln, Hamburger SV II oder BFC Dynamo hieß. Gewonnen wurde dagegen die Auswärtspartie gegen Rot-Weiß Erfurt, wobei hier aber anzumerken ist, dass beiden Seiten nach dem Spiel nicht wirklich klar zu sein schien, was da passiert war. Fakt ist, dass es nach wie vor an einer kontrollierenden Hand im Offensivspiel mangelt. Lars Fuchs, dem diese Rolle wohl am ehesten zuzutrauen wäre, ist unglücklicherweise nach eigenen Aussagen noch nicht fit, wird also die ersten Partien des Jahres wohl eher von der Bank aus sehen als in der Startformation.

Mit Blick auf die weiterhin existierenden spielerischen Schwächen kann sich der FCM die anstehende Ligasaison weitgehend schenken – für den Abstieg dürfte die Mannschaft zu gut besetzt sein, für den Aufstieg, etwas ketzerisch formuliert, ist sie zu schlecht trainiert. Anders sieht es im Landespokal aus, den zu gewinnen sich der Club nicht als Ziel zu setzen braucht – das ist als Pokalmannschaft eh Pflicht.

Neben dem DFB-Pokal-Spiel der Herren am Sonnabend findet am Sonntag noch das DFB-Pokal-Spiel der U19 statt. Unglücklicherweise, möchte man sagen, ist doch die U19 an diesem Wochenende beim PSV Eindhoven eingeladen, der die Jubiläen seiner Europapokaltitel feiert und zu diesem Zweck die U19-Teams der Mannschaften eingeladen hat, gegen die damals gespielt wurde. Darunter sind neben dem Club von der Elbe auch Größen wie Real Madrid, der FC Barcelona und Galatasaray, aber auch die befreundete Eintracht aus Braunschweig. Da Wacker Burghausen, Gegner des Clubs im DFB-Pokal nicht zu einer Verlegung bereit war,2 wird die U19 nun schon am Sonnabendabend aus Eindhoven abreisen und so das Gruppenspiel gegen den FC Barcelona und die Platzierungsrunde verpassen. Schade eigentlich.

  1. in Tiflis findet 2015 der UEFA Supercup statt, bei dem der Sieger des UEFA Cups 2014/15 gegen Gewinner der Champions League 2014/15 antritt. Der DFB-Pokal-Sieger (oder Finalist) 2013/14 qualifiziert sich für die Europa League der folgenden Saison []
  2. Fairerweise muss man anmerken, dass Burghausen schon in der nächsten Woche in den Ligabetrieb startet, nicht erst Ende August wie der Club. []

Season’s over – again

The 2010-11 season comes to a close next Saturday, and it looks very much like 1. FC Magdeburg will compete in the fourth tier for another year. What was a reason for dissatisfaction in the past two years, when Kiel and Babelsberg were promoted, is actually a source of relief. After a disastrous campaign, Magdeburg got very close to being relegated to the fifth tier. So close, in fact, as the club hadn’t been since 2002 when relegation was avoided only on matchday 33.
What had happened? After the club had tried very hard to win promotion in the past two seasons, a huge hole cropped up in the budget, and the board decided to a) lie about its existence and size, then b) admit its existence but lied about the size and then c) created a squad from scratch that was very very cheap, compared to the squads in the past two seasons. Unfortunately, along with being cheap, the team was also weak, aside from a few gifted players. Most of the team certainly had quality for a tier 5 team, but sadly, they had to compete in tier 4. At the start of the season, Magdeburg had lost two forwards who had scored 31 goals between them in the 2009-10 season. Of the team leaders in the past season, only two stayed, Daniel Bauer and Stephan Neumann. In any case, the club got off to a surprisingly good start, with 10 points from 4 matches, and then lost to RB Leipzig 1-2 after a good performance. Unfortunately, that would be the last time the team played well for quite a while – with dire consequences for their rank in the league table. After day 4, Magdeburg had led the league, but at the halfway point of the season – day 17 – they were ranked eleventh, with just four points separating the club from the relegation zone. In the winter break, forward Eddy Vorm left the club for Holland after he’d scored only once in the league, and forward Shergo Biran and midfielder Kosta Rodrigues were signed. The latter was not immediately helpful, while the former was banned from playing due to some transfer issues until March…
After matchday 24 saw the club slump to a 0-2 home defeat at the hands of Plauen, the board sacked manager Ruud Kaiser and brought in Wolfgang Sandhowe who was in charge of the reserve team at the time. The reserve was bottom of their league, too…
While Sandhowe did not at all improve the team’s playing style, Magdeburg did avoid relegation with him in charge. He did manage to get more points per game than Kaiser, but a difference of .18 is negligible at best.
The consequences of this season have already been drawn. Magdeburg will get a team manager who will be in charge of all the club’s teams. Hopefully this person will also understand that Sandhowe is not a long-term option, as his previous record with clubs is not exactly one of success. As there is an impending league reform next season, there will be no relegation from tier 4, making it an ideal season to form a new team to compete for promotion in 2013 – one of the famous two-year plans is in order, I’d say.

To sum up the various team’s performances:

  • Senior team: just avoids promotion with one matchday to go
  • Under 23: Relegated from tier 5, comes in last of 16 teams
  • Under-19: Relegated from Youth Bundesliga (top flight), 9 points behind  non-relegation spots
  • Under-17: Mid of the table, about 20 points behind promotion spot in the second-highest level
  • Under-15: Third in the top level Regionalliga Mitteldeutschland

One more thing: Next season, thing’s will be different at this here blog, although I don’t exactly know in which way. Different is all I can promise.

Fighting relegation on all fronts

Wow. I last posted in October. A number of things happened at 1. FC Magdeburg, but few of them were positive.
After a decent start to the season with 10 points from the first four matches, the team went into a slump that saw the relegation spots creep closer and closer.
In November, a good thing happened – the board stepped down, but unfortunately they are still in charge…interim, until April 15th. Very strange all that. In addition, the chairman of the supervisory board stepped down as well, but unfortunately only after a new president had been selected (albeit not announced officially), so that there is still a lingering mark of the incompetent leadership of the past few years at the club.
Today, however, Magdeburg played RB Leipzig, the team against which the slump had begun with an unlucky 1-2 loss. Although Leipzig are by far the superior team, Magdeburg ran out 2-1 winners today, a small silver lining amid the overall bad situation at the club.
The first team is not at all clear of relegation, the U23 team are second-to-last in tier 5, the Under 19 are 5 points behind a safe spot in the Under 19 Bundesliga and the Under 17 side are not safe yet either.
One can only hope that relegation can be avoided for the first two sides, everything else is a bonus. Oh, did I mention, there is 200k€ hole in the budget? Same amount as had been there at the end of the last season, despite the club cutting costs radically. Kinda tells you all you need to know about the leadership in the past few years.

Well, so much for a quick update on the situation.

The dirty deed is done

As I indicated yesterday, the Football Association of Saxony-Anhalt (FSA) does not agree with my opinion that culpability should play a role in determining which youth teams participate in the DFB-Pokal and NOFV-Pokal.
For reasons I cannot find in any of the statutes governing youth football or football in the FSA territory, officials have decided to register Hallescher FC’s Under-19 team for the DFB-Pokal and 1. FC Magdeburg’s Under-17 team for the much less prestigious NOFV-Pokal.1
1. FC Magdeburg have reacted with a press release that is mild in my opinion, but nevertheless manages to call the decision „unsportsmanlike“. It further adds that the decision reflects exactly a statement from Halle’s youth coordinator made last week and reported as „the only fair solution“ in Halle-based newspaper Mitteldeutsche Zeitung. The press release closes with words of regret with regard to the notion of fair play that is always propagated by the FSA, but seems to not have any influence on the association itself.
Magdeburg’s cooperation was not rewarded – the club had readily agreed to switch the final locations to Halle instead of Magdeburg in order to get the matches to be played. In essence, the decision rewards Halle’s boycotting the final at the close of last season with a spot in the DFB-Pokal. And while FSA president Werner Georg has apparently assumed full responsibility for the mess and also promised an internal investigation, I am not holding my breath for anything constructive.

All I can hope for is a resounding defeat for Halle in the DFB-Pokal – and in the Under-19 Bundesliga match against Magdeburg that is scheduled for 22 August.

  1. NOFV is the regional FA governing football in Brandeburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Berlin, Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt []

Top of the table – and a cup farce

Yesterday, Magdeburg won their first league match of the sesaon, beating Lübeck 2-0. In a repeat of last year’s inaugural fixture, both teams were nervous and not able to consistently play a decent attacking game over 90 minutes. Magdeburg’s defense held tight, allowing only two real opportunities for Lübeck, none of which was converted. In contrast, Magdeburg scored two out of their three opportunities, both by Denis Wolf. This result saw Magdeburg top the table (shared with Eintracht Braunschweig II, but let’s ignore that, shall we?). Pity there’s no way to keep that position for the remainder of the season.
League favorites RB Leipzig only drew Türkiyemspor in their first game, but considering that they bought last season’s top scorer Daniel Frahn for 250,000 Euros and Rot-Weiß Erfurt’s talent Kammlott for 800,000, one can imagine what they’ll do if things look dull in their promotion campaign…
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Selling out instead of shelling out

I might have mentioned some degree of incompetence and inability to understand what’s what on the side of the youth department at 1. FC Magdeburg before. Last time I talked about this, seven players of the successful Under-19 had left despite being young enough to add another season, this time in the top flight at that age, the Under-19 Bundesliga. I added that I wasn’t holding my breath with regard to the management’s ability to secure the services of Daniel Ujazdowski, last season’s U-19 top scorer, for another year or two.
Today, I was proved right. According to youth department chief Carsten Müller, the club could „only go so far“ with regard to a contract offer. Ujazdowski was offered a „perspective in the Under-23 side“, but apparently the offer was not good enough. Naturally, the exact nature of the offer is unknown, but Ujazdowski’s mentor (and former FCM star) Wolfgang Seguin is quoted as saying that „Daniel can only play football, and the club’s offer was really beneath contempt“. [Source]
Assuming that the player was not unreasonable in his demands, it should have been possible to keep him at the club, but instead another talented youth is let go in the desire to save money. But the longterm goal of the club cannot be to be the only Regionalliga side that makes a steady profit – the goal must be promotion and securing a position in the the top 50 of German football (finishing 14th in the 3rd Liga would do that). This will hardly be possible, if the top youth players leave the club year after year. At some point the management has to learn that it is not enough to provide a perspective with regard to the sporting side of things, but that you have to provide for the financial needs of the players – and for their post-football future, by getting them apprenticeship positions for example.

Until then, everything done in forming young talented players will be in vain, as the majority will continue to leave the club once they finish school at the nearby sport schools.

Future? What future?

In the last post, I casually mentioned that the Under-19 squad of 1. FC Magdeburg won promotion to the A-Jugend-Bundesliga, the top flight for teams of that age group. As usual in the youth teams, there is a more or less high degree of fluctuation, as players naturally age.
It is therefore especially annoying when a player leaves who can still play in the side for another year. In the case of the FCM U19 squad, ten players have left at then end of the season, seven of which could still have played in U19 for another year. Three of those players, including the captain, leave for RB Leipzig, the German „project“ of Austria’s Red Bull company, the modus operandi of which is well-known: Money, money, money, and everything must happen quickly. In the case of these three players, maybe one must be lenient with FCM management, seeing as how they just cannot compete with the amounts of cash RBL has available. But when six players leave without having a new club or to fellow Bundesliga side Carl Zeiss Jena who do not exactly possess mountains of cash, the question as to the cause of this exodus must be raised.
Another player has already told the club he is leaving, but the youth center manager claims there is still a chance for his staying. Don’t hold your breath.
It is not understandable how the management expect to save the squad from relegation, if they let go such a large number of players. On the other hand, this fits in well with the incompetence that you get used to when following 1. FC Magdeburg.

In other news, the senior squad won a first test yesterday, beating Askania Ballenstedt, an eighth-tier side, 15-0.