Optimist: Unbeaten in our last four!
Pessimist: We’ve been shut-out in three of our last four!
Reality: There are very few clubs who can take for granted the idea of seizing Bundesliga points on a regular basis. Our 1. FC Köln is not (yet) among those few. Hence, going four consecutive without a loss since a visit to Bayern is not something to dismiss at trivial.
It is hard to not be a little disappointed with a few of the scoreless draws, though. At home against Hoffenheim and Mainz, the opportunities were there, but the offense simply couldn’t convert. We saw the same thing Friday night in Darmstadt. This is certainly a problem to observe and consider, but not from a perspective that the FC is meant to simply blow through some of these opponents on our way to Europe. Even with some early flirtations with top-six positioning, that’s simply not what this team is about right now.
That said, I have no way to tell you, nor myself, that we can’t look at FC Augsburg and SV Werder Bremen as a pair of ripe opponents for the plucking. Once we’re on the other side of the next two match days . . . well, we can discuss it then.
Pessimist: We’ve dropped to the bottom half of the table!
Optimist: We went thirteen match days without a double-digit placement in the table!
Reality: As much as I believe Schmaddi and Stöger are sandbagging with their stated goals of “retain the class as early as possible,” we should at least try to remember that we are in just the second season of a return to the Bundesliga. The greater mission for the club is to establish stability as a top-flight staple. You can look below to see other “traditional clubs” struggling with relegation-worthy form, though I doubt I need to remind anyone reading this that we needn’t look any further than our own recent history for a reminder of how easy it can be to plummet out of the top division.
The cliche is that the second year after promotion is the most-difficult one for a club to manage. Even if you’re completely annoyed with the lack of scoring recently, do you honestly see anything here that makes you think the 1. FC Köln will eventually be near the bottom of the table fighting to stay up?
You don’t. I know you don’t, so don’t even try to pretend you do.
Despite losing half our central defense and our primary source of goals from last year, the team looks as sturdy as ever. Are there problems? Of course! But they’re the problems that will likely keep the team from rising above mid-table, rather than the ones that will send the club plummeting back into second-division oblivion.
Pessimist: We again missed a chance to jump into a European spot!
Optimist: We are already halfway to 40 points!
Reality: I can admit that I love it when a match day ends with the 1. FC Köln in the top six, triggering dreams of playing in one of the UEFA competitions. If I’m really in a good mood, I’ll extend that daydream into my having fallen into giant piles of money which I’d be then using to fund my travels to Bucharest and Rom and even Baku (Axel always mentions Baku, I think . . .).
But when I’m done fantasizing about such things, I return to the impracticality of worrying about such things so early in the season. Last year FC Augsburg did get themselves into position for a European spot quite early, but if it weren’t for an astonishing collapse of the Bundesliga middle class in the Rückrunde last year, they’d have been just another mid-table team thanks to their own dry spell.
Whatever it’ll take to get into a top-six spot by season’s end, it’ll ultimately depend on a lot more than how the 1. FC Köln played in November.
Though the 40-points-to-safety thing is mathematically a myth, teams don’t get relegated with 40 points. Especially recently, teams have skated safely away from relegation with far fewer than 40, but that’s the target Stöger and crew have in mind when they say they want to get to safety as quickly as possible. Once they are at 40, they will reassess what they will do with the remaining match days.
We’re already sitting at 20 points. If you are bad at math, that’s halfway to goal just 41% of the way through the season. At this pace, the effzeh would have its 40 points by the end of match day 28. You know where 40 points would have been at match day 28 last season? SIXTH and one point ahead of FC Augsburg.
Just imagine being able to retain the “safety first” mindset until that point and then having six matches remaining where you feel like you’re playing with house money.
Of course, that is a complete pipe dream. If we are sitting sixth after match day 28, the people shouting “Stöger raus!” right now are going to be talking about gunning for Pep & Bayern the following season.
Nonetheless, let’s keep the focus on the stated goals until they’re achieved, rather than worrying about top six in November, eh?
Pessimist: I can’t be reasonable, though, I’m effzeh!
Optimist: I can’t be reasonable, though, I’m effzeh!
Reality: . . .
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