Tagarchiv 2009-10

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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Speechless

Six matches to go in the league – 27 point deficit to #1 spot
Cup: Lost in the semi-final against Halberstadt. A team we have never ever lost against.

What gives?

End of an Era

How I’d have loved to write about the end of Volker Rehboldt’s time as the chairman of the board at 1. FC Magdeburg. But alas, it is the end of Steffen Baumgart’s time with the club instead.
Yesterday, the board had a meeting and apparently determined to send Baumgart on gardening leave, but also told the media they would not confirm this, because they wanted to tell „the affected party personally„. (Emphasis mine)
Well, today, Baumgart confirmed he was sacked when asked by several media outlets. Via the telephone, apparently.

This is just the last straw in a long row of ineptitude and incompetence put on display by the current board. It all began way back in 2007, when the board decided that the 1. FC Magdeburg squad was strong enough to reach tenth place in the following season. This led to the club signing exactly zero new forwards, although one of the team’s top scorers had left for a 2nd Bundesliga side. Of course, Magdeburg finished 11th, outranked on goal deficit by a mere three goals. New manager Paul Linz was then signed to reach the top spot in the 2008-09 season, with a budget that was arguably the largest in the league. Naturally, he failed and the team he had constructed was then taken over by Steffen Baumgart. I suppose a club with a notoriously over-expectant audience is not the best place to start a managing career, but as Baumgart himself pointed out, it was his choice. Well, Baumgart finished the season decently, winning the regional cup and thus qualifying for the DFB-Pokal. The league performance was somewhat poor though.

His contract was extended nevertheless, and several players that his predecessor had signed were let go, claiming they were „Stinkstiefel“ who poisoned the atmosphere at the club. Baumgart was given a number of new players, with some decent signings such as Denis Wolf or Lars Fuchs. However, Denis Wolf has only played about ten minutes of competitive football due to injuries, and several players were outright disappointments.
At the winter break, Magdeburg were ten points behind the coveted top spot, but Baumgart – and the players – were radiating confidence that they still could turn things around. As the other teams‘ results have shown, Magdeburg could have significantly reduced the deficit with a decent start. But it couldn’t have happened any other way – Magdeburg gained one point from five matches in 2010.

Of course, sacking the manager is now the logical consequence, you say? It would be, but if the chairman of the board keeps stating publicly that the team is a bunch of lazy sods who do not deserve to wear the shirt…and that in the 1-4 defeat at Hannover 96’s reserves „a characterless team had failed a decent manager“…
Then one has to wonder why the consequence is sacking the manager and allowing the team to continue.

The club are now looking for a new manager to pick things up from July 1, until then assistant manager and youth center boss Carsten Müller will be responsible. As Magdeburg are forced to reduce their budget by half a million Euros, it appears that nothing ever changes: No professional football in my home town.

Déjà vu

Remember Kenneth Wolstenholme and his famous 1966 WC commentary?

„They think it’s all over“ – was what described Magdeburg’s fans after the 0-1 defeat in Oberneuland when the club’s deficit to the top spot had increased to 9 points. But then came the home game against TeBe Berlin who received a 7-0 thrashing a the hands of a rather listless FC Magdeburg side. Babelsberg’s draw against bottom-placed Goslar meant the deficit was reduced to 7 points, so there was a little hope glimmering there.

„It is now“ – describes what Magdeburg’s fans must be thinking since yesterday 1515 hrs. The club had lost away at Meuselwitz, after dominating the entire match, but without scoring. Then came a penalty in the dying minutes, because of a clumsy tackle by right back Stephan Neumann. At the end of the season’s first half, Magdeburg are ten points behind. Not exactly an improvement over the one-point deficit from last season – and we all know where the club ended up then.

So, do you plan for another Regionalliga season now, or do you believe you’re strong enough to actually get those ten points more than the teams placed before you? Unless the club spend money on the defense which has turned out to be the Achilles‘ heel this season, I don’t see how it would be possible to close that gap. I refuse to blame the offense for the way that some of our defeats were going, simply because 38 goals from 17 matches are good enough to win promotion, even though the distribution could be a bit more even. 18 goals conceded in 17 games, however, is unacceptable, if you want to finish first. And we all want that.

Apologies to Mr. Wolstenholme for using his quotes from a moment of triumph to describe yet another low point in the post-reunification history of 1. FC Magdeburg.

Meanwhile, the U23 team lead their league, and might actuall win promotion. Fat lot of good that will do.

State of the Club

Since I last wrote, after match day 3, 1. FC Magdeburg have come through quite a development. New transfer Wolf is out until January, and the club signed Lars Fuchs from Jena as his replacement. This has turned out to be a good decision, as Fuchs has already scored 5 goals in the seven matches he has played in. As for the league position, Magdeburg have improved since day 3 when they were on 14. They are now on 8, but still with a 5 point deficit to the top spot, held by VfL Wolfsburg’s reserve team.
Most importantly, however, manager Baumgart changed his tactics. Instead of a defensive 4-2-3-1, Magdeburg now play a 4-1-3-2 that gives them more options in attack and is largely responsible for the 19 goals the team has scored so far. Unfortunately this change has also introduced some weakness in defense, so Magdeburg have conceded 13 goals so far.

The matches so far:
At home against Hansa Rostock II – 2–2
Magdeburg go one down after 38 minutes, then celebrate a late comeback with goals from Vujanovic and Watzka, only to concede a late equalizer off a free kick, after goalie Tischer and defender Prest miss the ball. The match is a glimmer of hope anyway after the abysmal performance against Türkiyemspor in the week before.

Away at VFC Plauen – 4–1
Magdeburg go one down again, after only 4 minutes, but this time the team manage a complete turnaround. By half-time the score is 3–1 to Magdeburg, another Vujanovic goal makes it 4–1 for the final whistle.

Home against SV Wilhelmshaven – 5–2
After this demonstration of strength, Magdeburg face Wilhelmshaven. They are third from the bottom and it only takes seconds for Magdeburg to take the lead. But within minutes Wilhelmshaven equalize and it looks like the match would turn into a nailbiter. Watzka scores to make it 2–1 at half-time, and in the second half Magdeburg get their act together, extending their lead to 4–1 before a defensive slip-up gives the guests their second goal. Marko Verkic scores in the final minute to make it a clear-cut 5–2.

Away at Babelsberg 03 – 2–3
In the following away match Magdeburg are punished for their defensive errors. Despite taking the lead twice, defensive slip-ups give Babelsberg three goals for the eventual win. The team had retreated too far, at times back to their own penalty area.

Home against Hannover 96 II – 4–2
The match against Hannover was a make-or-break affair. Hannover were in second place and a loss would surely have seen Magdeburg losing touch with the top teams. But despite their advantage in technique and table position, Magdeburg controlled the match from start to end. A furious first ten minutes saw both sides score off a penalty before the hosts took the lead with a Fuchs goal after thirty minutes. Until the 84th Magdeburg had extended their lead to 4–1, before another napping defender allowed Hannover to make it 4–2 for the final whistle.

Away at Hallescher FC – 1–1
Last week saw Magdeburg travel to their arch rivals in the south of Saxony-Anhalt. In front of more than 10,000 spectators the guests started well, but were reduced to ten in the 23rd after Daniel Bauer appeared to kick an opponent who had roughly tackled him. Bauer himself says he was unconscious following that tackle. Nevertheless he was given a two-match ban. After the red card hosts Hallescher FC attempted to control the match, but were largely unsuccessful. They took the lead with 30 minutes left on the clock, but around the 70th a firecracker landed right next to the linesman, thrown from the stands populated by Halle „fans“. It resulted in a five-minute break that brought Magdeburg some time to consider their options. Even though Magdeburg had largely contained Halle before the interruption, this became more obvious afterwards and eventually resulted in the well-deserved equalizer by a Watzka header off a Racanel corner-kick.
After nine matches Magdeburg still have every chance to win promotion, but good results from the next three games against dead-last Goslar, St. Pauli reservers and Hertha Berlin reserves are imperative before the matches against competitors Chemnitzer FC and VfL Wolfsburg reserves.

Crisis has come to Magdeburg

With Magdeburg as of yesterday having the third-worst start of the decade, the time has come to take a long hard look at the club in general, including management and the whole shebang.
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The season has only just started

But you wouldn’t know that from reading FCM-related boards. Two draws from the first two matches of the new Regionalliga Nord season were enough to trigger the „this season’s over, we’ll never get promoted this way, sack the manager“ gene in a lot of people.

Looking at it a tad more rationally, nothing’s lost yet — obviously.
In Lübeck, Magdeburg took the lead with 15 minutes to go, despite being a man down, but 7 minutes before the final whistle, Lübeck equalised with a 45-yard screamer. No way any goalie would have saved that one. Hence, despite playing badly for most of the 90 minutes yet still dominating the match in terms of shots on goal, Magdeburg came away with just one point. That is exactly one more point than the team won in Lübeck in the past season, but two points less than the team had after the first matchday in the last season.

Last Friday then saw the home debut of the reformed team against the reserve team of Bundesliga side Hamburger SV. The first half, admittedly, was abysmal. Three major and one possible minor issue prevented a better performance.
First and foremost, there were only ten players in the pitch for most of the time, because Catalin Racanel was mentally absent for large parts of the first 45. Secondly, Baumgart had started with a so-called double-six, that is, two defensive midfielders, both of which stood too deep, creating a huge hole in central midfield. Which brings us to issue number three: Tüting who was supposed to play behind the only true forward Vujanovic, moved to a parallel position with him too quickly when Magdeburg gained possession, robbing his teammates of a pass option, so that the only way was to play using the wingers Watzka and Racanel…well, Watzka. This could have worked but for the minor issue I mentioned above, namely the wingbacks not moving forward quickly enough. Hence Watzka would have to face to opposing players on his own, a venture that could not possibly have any successful outcome.
For the second half, manager Baumgart took off Racanel and replaced him with a second forward, Siga. This meant that Tüting left the central position and moved to the left flank, with the team now playing a 4-2-2-2. The change – and most likely a very harsh appeal to the players – led to a dominant performance in the second half with Magdeburg generating scoring chance after scoring chance, Siga missing the most obvious when he kicked the ball past the goal from about four yards. In the end, Magdeburg were unlucky to draw as Hamburg had a mere two true opportunities, both of which were foiled by Magdeburg goalie Tischer.
Naturally, the level of contentness is limited, but especially the second half provided a glimpse of hope for the remaining season.
In other news, Denis Wolf will be out for another 6 weeks after undergoing knee surgery for a ligament issue. Magdeburg’s sporting director Michael Richter has declared the club will sign another forward.