An Old International

Turn Around

The fourth game this month and Magdeburg seem to be on a roll. Two wins in a row, seven from a possible twelve points so far. That is pretty good going but it is still a long way to safety. However, the signs are looking good. Read more →

The week that was

It is only the second week of the year but FC Magdeburg have already produced headlines enough for at least the first half of the year. Some of the news were absolutely devastating to the point of utter disbelief before a convincing three points concluded the week. Read more →

Confidence Booster

FC Magdeburg have become an ideal sparring partner for teams lacking confidence as the defeat against out of form FC Saarbrücken demonstrated. Read more →

Wearying Football

To find something positive in Magdeburg’s game, we need to look at the table because on the pitch there was not so much to talk about. Read more →

The Month of Truth – January 2021

FC Magdeburg face the month of truth in January 2021 as they will have to play seven games in 21 days. That is one hell of a start to the new year. Read more →

Self Harm

Normally, it is the fans who commit acts of self harm by following their club through highs and lows. Magdeburg are acting dangerously by sticking to their guns. It may go wrong and a house of cards will collapse creating a thunderstorm. Read more →

Halb Vier: Interview

Below you’ll find a brief Q&A section with the editor of Halb Vier, an English language magazine focusing on German football,

‘be it the the stadiums, the fans, the beer or the even the action on the pitch’

Feargal, editor of Halb Vier

The interview was conducted by email.

1.What was the moment you have decided to publish a football magazine?
In recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of printed football journals/magazines in the UK. As other genres of journalism seem to be moving from print to digital (ie: music writing) football bucked the trend. I found myself reading quality football writing in magazines such as These Football Times, Nutmeg and The Blizzard. The cycling magazine, Rouleur, was also a source of inspiration. I am not saying Halb Vier measures up to any of these magazines in terms of quality/content/design but these were the inspiration. I was also involved in a League of Ireland fanzine many years ago that only lasted 3-4 issues so I was determined that Halb Vier would at least last longer!

2. Why German football?
I always had an interest in German football having been to my first Bundesliga games back in 1985. German football gets little coverage in the UK and only then it’s largely restricted to Bayern Munich/Borussia Dortmund and whatever German opposition there may be for an English team in Europe. A large number of people travel over to watch football in Germany on a weekly basis (or at least they did pre-Covid) so I always thought there would be some interest in a printed magazine on the subject. What I wasn’t aware of at the time was that there is interest outside the UK (particularly in Norway and surprisingly Germany) for a magazine on German football in English.

3. What attracts you to German football?
I am a massive Everton fan and go to all the home games and a significant portion of the away matches. As enjoyable as the match day experience, it’s very sanitised. A lot of the grounds look the same, match times are set with little regard for spectators, all seater stadiums impact upon the atmosphere and it’s nigh on impossible financially to bring your family to the games, that’s if you can get a ticket. I’m not saying German football has all the answers, however tickets are easier to acquire and in most instances are cheaper. It’s still possible to get standing tickets at most grounds and the fact that you can drink alcohol while watching the game makes the experience more enjoyable. There are problems with German football but they haven’t yet reached the crisis level of English football.

4. Are you aware that the title “Halb Vier“ evokes memories of the past when matches kicked off at 3:30pm on a Saturday afternoon and by 5:15 all results would be in? Are you consciously feeding some nostalgia here or was it just the slogan that applied to you?
No it was a conscious decision on our part. So much has changed in football in the past 25 years and German football fans have rallied against a lot of these changes particularly the way match times are often chosen without regard for the fans, particularly away supporters. This was a statement on our part to show that the fanzine was more about the culture and tradition of football as it once was. It was only after the first issue was published that I became aware that Arminia’s Bielefeld match day programme shared the same name!

5. How often is Halb Vier published a year?
The 4th issue of Halb Vier was published 3 weeks ago, Issue 1 came out in March 2020 so that’s four issues in the first year. Ideally from here on in we would like to publish 4 times a year (March, June, September and December). The first issue was 56 pages and the most recent issue comes out at 82 pages which is probably the maximum content for the next few issues.Covid has restricted trips to Germany and the amount of content, particularly photos, which I would like to include a lot more of. Hopefully travel restrictions will ease sometime in 2021.

The magazine comes in the handy A5-Format and fits into almost every bag. It is available from their shop. Issue four concludes the first year of the magazine and subscriptions for issues five to seven are possible. You can find them on twitter and a follow is highly recommended!

The magazine has been reviewed and you can read the review here.

Good writing does not come by chance, so consider this:

Review: Halb Vier, No. 4

The market for football magazines of all sorts is huge with new titles emerging regularly, promising the best writing we’ve never heard of paired with some stunning layout and imagery. Halb Vier isn’t that new, issue four is being discussed here but it is the focus on Germany that offers a difference. Read more →

If 11 aren’t enough

Magdeburg are not getting anywhere and the situation is becoming ever more worrying as each week goes by and the team once more plays without plan or planning. Read more →

If you have the Balls!

Paris Saint Germain and the Champions League is a chequered history. It is a history in which PSG have tried numerous times to get as far as possible or get to the final as during the Corona summer of 2020. Luck was not in their side either on this occasion.

The post as manager of PSG is one that brings with it some obstacles. There is expectations. Ever since the arrival of the big money bags from Qatar it is not enough to win the league each year. With the exception of 2017 when AS Monaco were crowned French champions, it has been PSGs since 2012. That is seven league titles in eight years.

The Champions League match against Leipzig in November was a tough match as either team have played constantly since the beginning of the season. It is therefore natural that some fatigue begins to show. The result of that match was a 1-0.

The real highlight came during the press conference after the game. It was a simple question whether his players lacked nerves in front of goal. And Tuchel exploded. Commentators applauded him for speaking out frankly against the media. There seems to be many people with many axes to grind when it comes to lashing out against the media. However, on this account, Tuchel got it wrong. His reply completely missed the question!

His response refers to the physical effort his players and everyone else playing in these circumstances, make. It is a grinding business and will affect many careers in the short and long term, for sure. The question asked, whether his players lack the psychological aptness was justified and in previous seasons, the answer would have been a resounding ‘No!’. Just last year, in spring 2019, Manchester United eliminated PSG from the Champions League in the first round of knock matches when Marcus Rashford scored a late penalty to make it 3-1 for United; PSG had won at Old Trafford 2-0 and were sure to progress if not for the mental toughness of United.

Three years ago, in February 2017 PSG had Barcelona beaten 4-0 at home and no one cold have foreseen what happened in the return game. As early as the third minute Barcelona scored and ended their goal haul in the 95. minute, scoring six along the way and conceding one. So, the answer whether PSG have the balls to close down matches and progress is no, because they have shown more often than not that they lack this mental toughness required to dominate an opponent over two legs. Of course, Tuchel would never admit that – would he do so, he would be out of his job immediately. What Tuchel has attempted to do with his reply was to protect his players from what he considers undue criticism for a performance that was below their own (PSG’s that is) expectations. This may be so yet it is normal that not every game is a festival of passes, long and short, and goals or goal scoring opportunities. Football is a game that is entirely focused on results and on the night of the Leipzig match, PSG got their result.

Last season, distorted by Corona, PSG got to the Champions League Final where they were beaten by Bayern Munich. It may have been their best chance as the knock-out stages from the quarterfinal onwarded consisted of only one game per round, which means the Parisians were spared the nerve wrecking second leg when they beat Atletico Madrid and RB Leipzig.

The relatively rough tone of Tuchel’s reply indicates however that there are deeper lying issues troubling him and his squad. They are not delivering. The club’s direction wants a European trophy, just as the fan base. Yet, this trophy eludes Paris every time the knock out stages begin. There are questions about Neymar’s discipline and how much Tuchel lets him get away with. Surely, such huge personalities must have an impact in the dressing room while at the same time the pressure to deliver mounts with every defeat in the Champions League.