Imagine your team losing 4-0 to their arch rivals. Imagine that your favorite team was expected to be amongst the top 5 this season, but had instead been drowning in the dreary battle against relegation during the last weeks.
What would the fans reaction be upon the team returning back home?
Well, chanting their coach’s name and greeting their team with applause and then trying to convey that the fans were concerned wasn’t probably amongst your answers. But, at Werder, things simply work differently! This is why Thomas Schaaf and his players were greeted in this fashion even after Werder had lost 4-0 away at their arch rivals Hamburger SV. Thomas Schaaf is still a hero, even after a badly botched season, which this was. The majority of fans stuck with Schaaf and Allofs through this extraordinary campaign, even when things went from bad to apocalyptically bad.
Schaaf’s career at Bremen began in 1972, and he has been at the club ever since. Most Bremen fans agree upon the fact that Schaaf himself should decide when it is time to go. 11 years into his coaching career for the senior team, Schaaf still thinks he has a lot left to give, and now he is looking to build a new team for the 2011/12 season.
Disastrous Transfers and Injuries
The fact that Bremen ended up in 13th place, 17 points behind the European places would give rise to disharmony amongst fans of many other clubs. However, there is a certain consensus amongst Werder fans that this season went horribly wrong because of a number of different circumstances that had nothing to do with the coach. And Özil leaving the club for greener pastures at Real is not among the main reasons, believe it or not.
Firstly, Klaus Allofs provided Schaaf with a number of bad signings. Micheal Silvestre didn’t bring the stability at left-back that Werder have been lacking for years. Marko Arnautovic came with a heavy price tag, but the striker did not manage to produce many memorable moments this season. 3 goals and 3 assists are a very poor stat for the former Austrian International. The only player that managed to somewhat impress after joining Werder this season was Wesley. The Brazilian put in some solid performances in his debut year, and Schaaf put him to good use, all around the pitch.
Another reason for Werder’s miserable season is Schaaf’s assumption that Hunt and Marin could make up for the loss of Özil amongst the pair of them. Both of them had a terrible season with their former partner setting La Liga on fire.
While assumptions and new signings failed, this perfect storm scenario of Werder having to fight relegation was also helped by the fact that the team from northern Germany were very unlucky with their injury situation throughout the season. Their danger man Claudio Pizarro was out with an injury for most of the season and Brazilian Naldo, one of their top defenders, was injured all year long. All these injuries forced Schaaf to field many different formations, and never allowed the team to establish any sort of form.
Restructuring the Team
However, Schaaf and Allofs are now looking to recreate the magic which Bundesliga fans associate with Werder Bremen. Allofs has already signed two midfielders for next season. One of them is Mehmet Ekici, a playmaker with good references from his time at Nürnberg and Bayern Munich. The other is 18 year-old Tom Trybull, arriving at Werder after a good season with Hansa Rostock. Swedish striker Markus Rosenborg is coming back, and will give Sandro Wagner and Marko Arnautovic a fight for the place in the line-up alongside Claudio Pizarro.
Furthermore, Bremen are close to signing left-back Lukas Schmitz, giving Schaaf the option of leaving Silvestre out of the line-up. Allofs is also trying to find a holding midfielder and a centre-back. Names for possible signings on those two positions have been mentioned en masse by the German media, but nothing has materialized so far.
With Frings, Jensen and possibly Pasanen, some of the more experienced players will leave the club. Schaaf and Allofs have decided to replace them with young players. The two signings that Allofs has brought in so far are far more promising than any of the signings from last year.
There is optimism in the air. And many Werder fans can’t wait for the next season to begin.
– Niklas Wildhagen
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