And with that, it’s official: I’ve not enjoyed any stretch of my Effzeh fandom as much as I have the two matches sandwiched around the international break.
Of course, who wouldn’t love 8 goals scored to one conceded and a sudden burst from “yeah, well, they’ve not lost yet, but…” to “Wow! This team can dominate?!”
Honestly, during the big unbeaten streak last season that finally pulled 1. FC Köln from the muck of the 2. Bundesliga’s relegation zone and propelled them, momentarily, into the playoff spot, I never once got the sort of thrills from watching the continued success as I have the last few match days. Much of that can, of course, go to the style of play under Holger Stanislawski, but even while I was dreaming of a storybook finish with a promotion back into the Bundesliga, I KNEW that somewhere within lingered that same team which couldn’t find the goal with a GPS smartphone app.
When you consider that just one year ago match day five had ended with a scoreless draw, earning the squad it’s second point but with just the single Thomas Bröker penalty in the “goals scored” column, we are clearly enjoying, by comparison, an embarrassment of riches. I don’t think it’s too early to say that Peter Stöger’s philosophies has helped field a much more-interesting on-field product.
Of course, the turnover in personnel also has a lot to do with the new look as well. Marcel Risse was instantly identifiable as an improvement, while Daniel Royer’s energetic and aggressive play in the offensive areas tends to make you wonder whether something is about to happen. Even so, it still seemed that defenses managed to clog the arteries near the heart of the goal, primarily keeping Anthony Ujah surrounded.
Enter Patrick Helmes.
Whether you have embittered memories of him due to his earlier departure to Leverkusen (many of you, it turns out!), or your fandom is simply too new to even have known that whole thing happened until you were already excited about his acquisition (me, primarily), you have to admit his presence on the pitch Monday night against Energie Cottbus seemed to open things up for the Effzeh attack, as Ujah’s two goals might indicate.
And, let’s face it, he should have had a third. Got to work on some technical proficiency on that finishing end, eh Tönn?!
Of course, that’s easy for me to say, when I know full well that, put in the same position on Fifa 13 even without having had a beer or two, I’d have been lucky to get the ball within six feet of the goal, so…
With 27 matches left, it’s best to not get too carried away, but with more time for all the new players to learn how to play as a unit, I’m feeling pretty good about the general direction of the club, even with some question marks about some of the defending. Heck, I’d even nearly forgotten Bröker was on the team!
Moving on, I’m down to crunch time in merchandise selection. My son Owen has been asking nearly every day, “Daddy, will you buy me a billy goats shirt for soccer?” Between that request and the absurdly adorable Hennes backpack over which the Missus and I giggled and fawned at much too late an hour last night, I may end up blowing my entire FC Fanshop budget on the boys.
Worse things have happened.
It’s been a while, but…NEWS!
- Yannick Gerhardt, he man who started the eight-goal eruption with his first goal as a professional to start the festivities against Aue, has extended his contract by one year, keeping him under control of 1. FC Köln into 2016.
The 19-year-old midfielder told KSTA.de he was thankful to have been able to become a professional in Köln and earn regular playing time since doing so.
About extending with his current club, Gerhardt offered, “I don’t think on other clubs. I want to go up with the FC.”
Jörg Schmadtke was also very positive about the deal, saying Gerhardt “has quickly become accustomed to senior-level football. He is very grounded.”
Having seen his play in his six games with the senior club, I find this to be a fantastic bit of news and look forward to a lot more Yannick Gerhardt to come.
Though, do you think he cruises by Patrick Helmes in the clubhouse and says, “See how easy that was?”
- Because I’d been busy and, hence, less attentive than I’d been prior, I was very surprised when Jonas Hector was not in the squad Monday. Some basic Twitter probing (“Hey! What’s up with Hector?!) led to my learning he’d been ill, which was much better than what I’d thought, which was that he had been injured during training.
Because flu goes away much more quickly than, say, a hamstring strain, Hector is again healthy and available at training, meaning there is a good chance it will be he, and not Kevin Wimmer, at the left back Friday night when FC Kaiserslautern come to town.
And, in case you missed it, former MSV Duisburg trainer Kosta Runjaic is now in charge in Kaiserslautern and will make his club debut at Müngersdorf.
- In what counts as a nice bit of trivia, with Dortmund’s Champions League loss Wednesday, only two teams among Germany’s professional clubs have yet to take a loss in a match that means something: FC Bayern München and 1. FC Köln.
I’m cutting this off here. I could pretend I’ll write more later, but I won’t have time and then be frustrated I didn’t get to more news. So, here’s to more-frequent but maybe less-lengthy posts!