What did we all learn from yesterday’s 9th Bundesliga match-day? That Berti Vogts has a much underestimated understanding of national football. That’s right, Berti Vogts – or, as many of you might be thinking, “Berti who?”
Hans-Hubert Vogts, Berti for short, was the German national coach from 1990 to 1998, and is currently training the team of a lesser known footballing nation – Azerbaijan. This move to Central Asia followed an unhappy year at Leverkusen in the 2000-2001 season, but is by no means in keeping with his track record.
After all, it was under Vogts that Germany took its last major title: the European Football Championship in 1996. Furthermore, he’s not lost the magic touch, with Azerbaijan recently winning against Turkey and thereby helping Germany in their quest to qualify for the next European Championship. What makes Berti Vogts very special, however, is his almost prophetic capabilities, proven again and again. When finishing his successful career as a player at Mönchengladbach in 1979, he was blunt in predicting difficult days ahead for the team. Difficult to imagine after the glory days of the 70s, but he turned out to be right: since then, there has been no Championship, no European glory, no nothing for Borussia Mönchengladbach; just the lingering threat of relegation and a descent into chronic underperformance.
They’re still there this season, having not won a single game since the second day of play. The Gladbach lads are not glad at all, staring earlier than expected into the abyss and now facing an uphill fight for the rest of the season from the uncomfortable position of 17th place. Vogts said back in 1979 that the team had a structural problem, with the city of Mönchengladbach and its surrounding areas being financially too weak to support the team as the other Bundesliga clubs got bigger and richer. The only way they can ever hope to compete is to get bargain-basement transfer deals and to work intensively with young talent, but they are not doing this to the extent they should. Although there have been some great youth players in recent years like Marin or Reus, the side has not done well in the transfer stakes – and the guy who needs to stand up and take the blame is the coach. At the moment, Michael Frontzeck (photograph) seems to still be in some kind of grace period granted by the board, but this won’t last forever, especially after this weekend’s 1:4 drubbing against Bremen.
Meanwhile, just a few clicks East of Mönchengladbach, the rival side 1. FC Köln is a little further along the path of virtue, with the Cologne board having fired coach Zvonimir Soldo after another defeat (1:2 in Hannover) and a drop to 18th place in the league: with only one win in the last nine matches, you can’t be surprised by this decision. The glory days at Köln are, like the ones at Mönchengladbach, long gone; these two sides on the Rhine are second class sides and have been for some time. Yet Cologne is a big city with the resources to do better – namely loyal fans and wealthy sponsors; if the sporting side of things is poorly managed, however, there’s very little that can be done, and FC Köln has developed a nasty habit of buying average players for large amounts of cash. Meanwhile, their youth teams struggle to produce new talent, with Podolski being the last one of note – seven years ago!
This fight to stay in the Bundesliga will be focus of the coming months for this Rhineland rivals, but I don’t see either of them taking the only really logical step and signing Vogts as coach.
Oh yes, the HSV-Bayern game? 0:0 draw – nothing to write home about, or even a blog post.
Results Matchday 9:
Hamburger SV – Bayern München 0:0
Eintracht Frankfurt – FC Schalke 04 0:0
Borussia Mönchengladbach – Werder Bremen 1:4
SC Freiburg – 1. FC Kaiserslautern 2:1
Hannover 96 – 1. FC Köln 2:1
1. FC Nürnberg – VfL Wolfsburg 2:1
Borussia Dortmund – 1899 Hoffenheim 1:1
Bayer Leverkusen – 1. FSV Mainz 05 0:1
VfB Stuttgart – FC St. Pauli 2:0
1 1. FSV Mainz 05 24 P
2 Borussia Dortmund 22 P
3 Hannover 96 16 P
4 1899 Hoffenheim 15 P
5 Bayer Leverkusen 15 P
6 Hamburger SV 15 P
7 SC Freiburg 15 P
8 Werder Bremen 14 P
9 Eintracht Frankfurt 13 P
10 FC St. Pauli 13 P
11 Bayern München 12 P
12 1. FC Nürnberg 12 P
13 VfL Wolfsburg 10 P
14 VfB Stuttgart 7 P
15 1. FC Kaiserslautern 7 P
16 FC Schalke 04 6 P
17 Borussia Mönchengladbach 6 P
18 1. FC Köln 5 P