I don’t know how the DFB Pokal second-round could have fallen more ideally into our schedule. Instead of nearly two full weeks between meaningful Bundesliga matches, it ends up being just ten full days without our beloved 1. FC Köln playing in a game that matters.
Having read a lot of chatter over the weekend, there seems to be two major ways effzeh fans are looking at last week’s 4:0 loss to FC Buy’em.
The first group seemed to anticipate the game providing a sign that the club is ascending to the top level of German football, where we all believe such a great club belongs. Even while we all love to talk about the effzeh being on its way to the Europapokal, most of us have a more-realistic timeline for when that might next happen hidden in our head behind the straight-faced “Next year, of course!” any of us might answer when asked when we believe our club will next play in Europe.
Yet, there are some who have that pragmatism so deeply buried in their psyche, that they genuinely believed the effzeh was going to be the one to end Bayern’s unbeaten run to start the season, announcing itself as the Bundesliga club to watch going forward. Once it was clearly not going that way, there was a bit of moping from that Eeyore-inspired section as its members reflected on past glories, released a giant sigh, and said something to the effect of, “Once upon a time, we, too, were great . . .”
The rest of us entered the match hoping for something crazy to happen that would allow for a shock point or three to come back to Köln with the team, but expected about what we saw.
But the main difference between the two groups is that the latter group’s reaction to it was just, “Who cares?”
The reason there was neither a preview, nor a recap to the match was that I fall firmly into the second group.
I certainly cared enough to set my alarm for 6:10 Saturday morning to assure I’d be in front of the screen with a mug of hot tea when the game started, but that’s an effzeh- thing, rather than a Bundesliga- or even a football-thing. I otherwise do not go out of my way to watch Bayern matches. In fact, as I try to keep up with the league by watching as many matches as I can, I usually put the Bayern matches off until I’ve watched the other eight. I just think they’re boring.
There are some who will chide me for that. There has already been a movement in the Bundesliga writing community to start appreciating the current iteration of FC Bayern for just how dominant they are and how they’ll likely go down in history as one of the all-time great squads. I could simply note that this point-of-view is little more than the predictable backlash against the backlash against Bayern, even if I agree (which I do) with the notion of this team potentially being an all-timer.
Bayern puts a lot of resources into keeping the Bundesliga title chase as void of tension as possible and have achieved that already, well before leaves have finished their autumnal color change. Good for them, I guess.
What I took away from the game is that, once again, a relatively small faction of effzeh fans went all the way to München to see a game they knew their team would lose and provided the vast majority of atmosphere in that giant library they call Allianz Arena. The home fans provided their rote cheering for each goal, but there was so little lust in it . . .
I’m reminded of a story a fellow American football referee told about his nominee for our officiating association’s sportsmanship award. He told of a lopsided game in which a large player from the team that was enjoying an easy victory had a smaller player lined-up for what could have been a huge hit, but laid off the kid at the last second and just nudged him out of bounds. When the official gave him an “‘atta boy!” for not crushing the guy, the player responded, “Eh. There wouldn’t have been any sport in that.”
Without getting into all the tired arguments about what Bayern does or doesn’t do with regard to competitiveness in the league, it’s that “sport” that is missing for me from Bayern matches and is probably what makes it difficult for the home fans to really get motivated to get into the games. Instead of watching individual moments and being anxious about how it will tilt the score at any moment, the questions are: “When will we get the first one?” “How many will we score?” and “Will we concede at all?” Is THAT any fun?
I can’t imagine that it is.
What always gives me a laugh is when US-based Bayern fans respond to Bayern criticism with some form of “They hate us because they ain’t us!”
This happens a lot, by the way. For you effzeh who are also fans of the NFL’s New England Patriots, it is a VERY similar demeanor that fan base takes with detractors of that team. They say adversity builds character; so what happens without adversity?
But, getting back to the point . . . there is this weird thing happening there where these guys think they’ve somehow contributed to this disparity between Bayern and the rest of the league and have, therefore, earned some claim to their own greatness. You know, instead of simply having one day chosen to be a Bayern fan, which is something any of us could do right now . . . if what we wanted from following a football club was to celebrate sure-thing wins and titles on an unreasonably regular basis.
Blech . . . this is already about four times as much as I ever wanted to say about Bayern and/or the Bayern match. I generally don’t feel like I should have to defend my lack of need for them any more than they feel like they have to defend beating the snot out of the entire league with heavy sacks of Euros.
All I wanted to say is that it’s nice to be back to competitive football, even if I’m not too excited about seeing Anthony Ujah playing against the red and white (even though Werder will be wearing red and white, while effzeh wears blue . . . weird). It feels like coming off an international break, when football seems pointless without some effzeh.
So, once again . . . COME ON EFFZEH!
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