If you’ve been around 1. FC Köln the last few seasons, you surely are already used to coach Peter Stöger being incredibly non-revealing when it comes to discussing his plans for upcoming matches.
If you’re new to the club . . . well, first, “Welcome!” . . . you may as well get used to not feeling too confident in knowing the game plan in advance. The coach is generally reticent about acknowledging much beyond “there will be a game.”
“One needn’t send the Stuttgarters all the information before the first match,” said Stöger on Thursday when discussing his outlook for Sunday’s Bundesliga start.
Despite winning 0:4 last weekend in the DFB Pokal opener, Stöger came away largely unimpressed with the overall performance of his club, saying that no individual player took the opportunity to make a statement with his play, showing the coaching staff why he should necessarily win playing time in a team with many options.
Milos Jojic was singled out by Jörg Schmadtke as a disappointment for not showing enough vigor in attack, while Yannick Gerhardt won the praise of his coach for his play in a brief appearance, which was capped with an assist on the final goal of the match when the young midfielder used his speed to beat the Meppen defenders to their own goal line where he crossed to Simon Zoller, who had little work to collect the score.
But you should never read too much into such public statements. While the players should certainly take note, there are more motivational tactics at play here than signalling of team planning.
“There will not be any huge surprise,” says Stöger. “But it is to our advantage when the opponent doesn’t know everything.”
Stöger has shown in his two seasons that he adjusts his philosophies to the personnel he has available to him. The summer test matches has revealed that the Austrian coach may be ready to unleash a more-offensive orientation than seen his first two seasons in charge, which saw records set for fewest goals allowed in a 2. Bundesliga season and for most scoreless draws in a Bundesliga season.
Tactical accommodations are also made for what information is brought from scouting the opposition. Naturally, Stöger has little to offer on that front, as well, saying only, “We have put together a lot of information, but we also won’t get into that.”
For all the talk and conjecture, Stöger is not one to change much in his squad from week to week. He does have a bigger squad this season than in the past and says the competition at training is tighter than its ever been. Hence, don’t be too surprised to see Gerhardt or even Simon Zoller emerge into the scene.
Just also don’t be too surprised if it looks a lot like this.