I have to admit, I was a bit annoyed at a trend I saw in the wake of the 0:1 victory at St. Pauli Saturday that took 1. FC Köln from ninth in the table to fifth.
A fan base that only a few months ago saw their club languishing in the relegation zone for most of the first two months of the season now had a lot of vocal members decrying the style in which the team managed a victory. It would appear that it’s simply not enough to take three points when those points are needed, but the Geißböcke need to apparently somehow also show in these games that they are considerably more talented than their opponent, result be damned.
Even when you consider everything that was stacked against the team…
- Road game: always more difficult.
- First trip back to St. Pauli as an opposing coach for Holger Stanislawski who managed over 100 games there after appearing in over 250 matches for them as a player…probably no extra emotion on either side, eh?
- First sell-out crowd of the season for the home team, and they were LOUD. Since you saw how poorly the team was executing, I was assuming you could hear the Stimmung.
- Unavailable were two regulars who figure prominently in the offensive attack: Adil Chihi and Thomas Bröker.
- The team went into the match knowing that a win would give them a significant boost in the standings. Let’s just assume that put some degree of additional pressure on the players, even very subconsciously.
- Stefan Maierhofer and Anthony Ujah were playing together for the first time in a game that counted.
They’re professionals, yes, and should therefore be expected to simply deal with such pressures and distractions. However, I don’t think that means you completely discount those scenarios when evaluating how it all played out, any more than you can simply dismiss any and all concerns about the team’s play with, “Check the scoreboard, bitch!”
Yet, I find myself saying, “Check the scoreboard (and table), bitch!”
This brings me to another chapter in the story of why I simply dig Stani and am glad Hoffenheim didn’t realize that it was that collection of overpriced talent that was running their fortunes into the ground and not the coaching.
In a press conference before the match with FC Union Berlin Friday, Stani seemed to finally have had enough of the critics to take a bit of a jab in their direction, saying somewhat sarcastically that, were you to listen to some members of the press (and I’m translating here, so…cut me a break; it’s close!), “We have won every game with luck. All the games we’ve lost, we deserved to lose. And we were unable to win the draws. Ultimately we sit in fifth place because I let my beard grow.”
Ironically, 1. FC Köln has, since the press conference, risen to fourth place with Stani having done little more to impact the move than growing some facial hair, unless you want to think St. Pauli’s somewhat-inspired 3:0 victory over FSV Frankfurt today came thanks to extra motivation from Monday’s loss in a game Stani said had the atmosphere of a derby and ultimately left the home team perilously near the relegation zone the Geißböcke now seem to have permanently left in the rear view mirror.
All that being said, those taking issue with the way the team played Monday do have some fair points to raise.
You would have to have been drunk to have not seen that Ujah and Maierhofer managed to negate one another on what would otherwise have been a few top-flight goal-scoring opportunities. Then again, when you see the botched four-on-one situation, you have to admit that pretty much no goal-scoring scenario and go unconverted at the feet of the sputtering Effzeh attack.
As Stani said in the post-game sideline interview, the inability to score goals has been a huge issue with the team all season long.
And it really has! Lest you forget or for some reason were protesting the drop to the second league by not watching the Hinrunde, the first several games were a disaster because the team couldn’t find the net, despite dominating matches in every other measurable way.
Despite all that…fourth place and six points back of the relegation playoff spot…you won’t take that? I don’t think FC Kaiserslautern is looking over their shoulder and thinking, “It’s just Köln; sure, they’ve lost just once in their last 16 league matches, but they don’t look that good doing it so…we’re all good.”
But, I hope they are thinking that. Because, should the effzeh managed to overtake FCK and earn the opportunity, I’m going to be quite okay with them going to Hoffenheim and winning a tight, if sloppy, 0:1 match there before bringing it back home for the kill shot. You want to still poo-poo that, that’s up to you, but don’t expect me to want to clink glasses of Kölsch with you in celebration.
Oh, who am I kidding. Come here, you! Let’s party!