News : Future of coach Kohfeldt: Werder is trapped – sport
When things are not going well, memories of better times come back. At the moment, not a few people in Bremen who are interested in SV Werder and are old enough to have been there back then are thinking of May 1999. The 31st matchday was over, as it is today. Werder had slipped deep into the relegation battle, like today. Werder still had the chance to win the DFB Cup, like today. And Werder discussed the continued employment of the coach, like today.
At that time, the management decided to fire Felix Magath and entrust a certain Thomas Schaaf with the task of saving the season. What began on a Tuesday evening with a 1-0 win against Schalke 04 is history. Legend. A unique piece of the Bundesliga. An era. So couldn’t Thomas Schaaf just come back from his technical director’s office to the coaching bench, Werder reloaded, back to the future?
Now Florian Kohfeldt, about whose future the association has been discussing in various constellations since Saturday afternoon, is not Felix Magath. To this day, Magath is considered the biggest misunderstanding in the club, it was two worlds that collided. Magath himself still says today that he doesn’t regret any of his coaching positions – apart from going to Werder. But Kohfeldt is a trainer who will celebrate his 20 year club anniversary this summer, someone who could have invented the club’s PR claim, 100% Werder, himself. The separation from Magath at that time was a liberation, that from Kohfeldt would be a painful separation.
Since this weekend and the depressing, lively, helpless and helpless appearance of Bremen at 1: 3 against Union Berlin, it has become much more likely that Kohfeldt will have to leave the club. Sports director Frank Baumann, who refused to comment on the situation on Saturday, said on Sunday: “We want to be able to say how things will continue by Tuesday at the latest.” A “decision based on emotions” should not be made because it is “an extremely important decision”.
Seven defeats in a row are a negative record – not even Schalke managed that
For Werder, it’s all about everything in the second consecutive season. Last summer Werder saved themselves – with Kohfeldt – in relegation and ultimately stayed in the league. In this season, after the 24th matchday, it looked as if Werder’s cautious game was incredibly boring, but led reliably to the safe side with at least 30 points. After 31 games, however, there are still 30 points. Since then, seven defeats in a row have not only been a negative club record, but not even Schalke 04. “The trend,” says Baumann, “speaks against us.”
In the next few hours there will be a lot of questions that the club and coach have to answer together. Kohfeldt says he wants to fight: “I will not run away.” But if someone feels “that things are going better with someone else, tell me”. Kohfeldt has already mastered similar situations twice, in his first season and in the last one. “He has proven that he can do it,” says Baumann. On the other hand, the criticism that the club management is now exercising is directed against the players, who recently lacked absolute will, courage, and commitment. But when Baumann says at the same time, “You can’t demand much more passion and emotion than Florian Kohfeldt” – do the players still hear him, the coach? When he explains, as he did a few weeks ago, that he admits the team that they feel more comfortable in the basic defensive system than in his more offensive system of wishes – will he still lead them?
Bremen’s wait-and-see game is not only unsightly, it no longer leads to occasional successes as it did for long stretches of the season. A deficit is now synonymous with a defeat. After the 0: 1 and the first of three goals by Union attacker Joel Pohjanpalo within 17 minutes, Werder captain Niklas Moisander described the early surrender of Berlin.
It will certainly also have to be discussed whether Kohfeldt still has a perspective in Bremen beyond the season – or whether he still sees one for himself. Kohfeldt was coach of the year in 2018, he has to be careful not to sacrifice his market value in full and far too early in his career to loyalty to Werder. If he stayed in Bremen, the job would always be the same: to develop a team. However, Werder Bremen, financially in an existentially dangerous situation due to the pandemic, offers him poorer conditions summer after summer. Does Kohfeldt want that? His reputation in the league is still excellent, he is only 38 years old – if Kohfeldt also wants to give space to his personal development, then maybe better not in Bremen. His understanding of football is to want to win something at some point. “That too,” says Frank Baumann, “will now play a role in the talks.”
The conditions in Bremen have become dramatically worse due to the pandemic
A separation, which might be due in the summer anyway, is simply preferable now, could make the situation easier. Unlike last season, when Werder felt like a biathlete in the penalty loop because the wind conditions were unfavorable at the shooting range, the problems this time go deeper. Last season, the club still believed that a lot of bad luck had only temporarily put the club off track – and that you could find your way back with Kohfeldt in the long term. That is different now, the conditions for “wanting to build something up” in Bremen, as Baumann says, have become dramatically worse due to the pandemic. A development of the team, as Kohfeldt intended, can no longer be seen. However, keeping each other trapped in an idea that can no longer be implemented makes mutual loyalty a trap. Necessary renewals would be made more difficult.
And as if that weren’t already complicated enough, there is also the cup game on Friday evening against Leipzig, semifinals, Berlin in mind. 1. FC Köln has just proven that Leipzig can also be beaten for a team with the limits of Werder Bremen; That Kohfeldt can drive his team to surprises in hopeless situations was shown by the victory in the quarter-finals against Dortmund last year. But what if you stay together now – and go down against Leipzig on Friday?
Sports director Frank Baumann is “preparing for all scenarios”, he made that clear on Sunday. If Kohfeldt does not stay, not only will the separation be announced by Tuesday at the latest, but also the successor solution. But even if it should be called Thomas Schaaf: Nobody should have too many hopes for a new Werder era at the moment.