If you read last week, you’ll remember me dedicating the entire text to the absolute lunacy that has swept through the Bundesliga in the last few weeks, with boards of directors running around like headless chickens and firing coaches left, right and centre.
Well, the bad news is that these chickens are still headless. Bayern München, for example, lost its Champions League round-of-16 decider against Inter Milan and ended up in stormy waters, desperately looking for somewhere to drop anchor and get back to an even keel: to do this, however, they’ll need to offload some ballast in the form of Louis van Gaal, but he just doesn’t want to walk the plank – and, try as they might, the Bavarian boatswains can’t find a replacement first mate. For the moment, he has been saved from going overboard by Franck Ribéry, who shot a winning goal against Freiburg which has at least kept Bayern on course for the Champions League next season. The map who’ll be leading the good ship München through this, however, is likely to be Leverkusen’s Jupp Heynckes.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the country, HSV have chucked everything overboard and are in dry docks for a complete refit: after the departure of coach Armin Veh, Chairman of the Board Bernd Hoffmann has had to go, too, and the Hamburg team has essentially written off this season and is waiting for director Frank Arnesen to come up with some good ideas – and a new coach. However, he may not have to, what with the current stop-gap solution Michael Oenning managing to land an astonishing, completely unexpected 6:2 victory over Cologne on the weekend.
Another interesting development since I last wrote has been the merry-go-round of coaches at Schalke 04. Now, if you’d asked me last week whether I thought the following game of musical chairs would have been possible, I’d have laughed dismissively, but it just goes to show you…
So what happened was that, despite his successes in the Cup and Champions League, Schalke fired Felix Magath: he didn’t get along well with his team, and they went to the Board and got the chairman to start telling tales about missing funds and embezzlement; it was a nasty opening punch straight below the belt, and the fight was over before it had started.
Who was Magath’s replacement, though? Well, it was the guy before the coach Magath himself replaced: Ralf Rangnick. He’d already trained the Schalke team in 2004-5 before going to Hoffenheim, and as he was driving towards Gelsenkirchen to try and get into Magath’s seat while it was still nice and cosy warm, Magath was flying at top speed down the autobahn to Wolfsburg to try and save them from relegation. He could probably drive the last few kilometres on autopilot, though, because he’d only left Wolfsburg in 2009 after taking them to the top of the Bundesliga. Hearing of his arrival, the Wolves – predictably enough – decided to get rid of coach Pierre Littbarski; what I didn’t see coming, though, was that they sent Dieter Hoeneß packing with him. It’s nice to see the coach not being the only fall guy for once!
Nevertheless, Wolfsburg have yet to profit from the return of Magath, only playing to a 1:1 draw against Stuttgart: I somehow wonder whether Magath’s undoubtedly generous contract would also be valid in the second league next year? Meanwhile, his replacement Rangnick is only starting this week, leaving Schalke losing to Leverkusen on the weekend.
Amidst all this madness, however, Eintracht Frankfurt showed just what can be achieved by sticking to one trainer through thick and thin: they won 2:1 against fellow relegation candidates St. Pauli, landing them their first win in the second half of the season – and Michael Skibbe a stay of execution.
Results Matchday 27:
Borussia Mönchengladbach – 1. FC Kaiserslautern 0:1
Hamburger SV – 1. FC Köln 6:2
Eintracht Frankfurt – FC St. Pauli 2:1
SC Freiburg – Bayern München 1:2
Hannover 96 – 1899 Hoffenheim 2:0
1. FC Nürnberg – Werder Bremen 1:3
Borussia Dortmund – 1. FSV Mainz 05 1:1
Bayer Leverkusen – FC Schalke 04 2:0
VfB Stuttgart – VfL Wolfsburg 1:1
1 Borussia Dortmund 62 P
2 Bayer Leverkusen 55 P
3 Hannover 96 50 P
4 Bayern München 48 P
5 1. FSV Mainz 05 44 P
6 1. FC Nürnberg 42 P
7 Hamburger SV 40 P
8 SC Freiburg 37 P
9 1899 Hoffenheim 36 P
10 FC Schalke 04 33 P
11 1. FC Köln 32 P
12 Werder Bremen 32 P
13 1. FC Kaiserslautern 31 P
14 Eintracht Frankfurt 31 P
15 VfB Stuttgart 29 P
16 FC St. Pauli 28 P
17 VfL Wolfsburg 27 P
18 Borussia Mönchengladbach 23 P