Accepting the Challenge ⋆ An Old International

Accepting the Challenge

The fans of FC Magdeburg are going through a rough patch as the squad struggles to find their form. The gap to the top places has widened and confidence appears to have taken a hit. And although this is nothing new, the team struggle.

We all like to be liked

The new year has been very difficult for FC Magdeburg and their supporters. A new coach was presented just before Christmas, a coach with a certain charisma and reputation. Someone that did not please everyone. But as Brian Clough once said,

„We all like to be liked, and yet show me somebody who’s liked by everybody and I’ll show you somebody who’s wrong.“

He was right and it perfectly fits the situation at Magdeburg these days and weeks. The new coach, Claus-Dieter Wollitz has not yet convinced all supporters and more importantly, he has not yet managed to get three points with this squad. As a result, the Club sit dangerously close to the relegation zone, just three points above the line is the cushion. In mid-January that gap stood at six points. While this is not a big change, the mood has changed. In fact, it seems things have become acerbic with each week passing.

The facts are clear: Magdeburg are 14. with 28 points; that’s three points clear of the first relegation spot, 17. The gap to the top spots has become a gulf: 12 points and there is no way Magdeburg will ever challenge for promotion in this season. The results in 2020 so far have been disappointing, in particular the two home defeats against Zwickau (1:2) and against Meppen (0:2) while the 1:1 draw away at Mannheim -who play with the same swagger Magdeburg had about them in 2015 in their first season after promotion – was a sign how much belief and confidence is this team. There, they never gave up and rewarded themselves with a late goal to gather a point. That’s five goals conceded, two scored, one point from a possible nine. That is a worrying trend, yet the word crisis should at any cost be avoided here. If however, one is inclined to use it nonetheless, then the whole season must be described as a crisis: a crisis of metamorphosis as Magdeburg need to change once again and adapt to the circumstances. Over the last few years, a lot was achieved with luck and hard work. Now hard work seems not to be enough and the luck has run out. This is the moment that has often been described as „when the going gets tough, the tough get going“. That is to say: now is the time for the characters within the squad to show up and for the squad as a whole to show their character. It is now or never.

Crossroads and Roundabouts

At the same time the Club is at a crossroads: ditch the traditional way of dealing with things, i.e. keeping the spirit of the Magdeburg family alive and swap it for the ruthless way of sacking coaches at the earliest sign of unrest and underperformance on the pitch? Signing mercenaries instead of players who can identify with the club? This appears to be the overarching issue that estranges some of the fans these days. The focus of their anger are Mario Kallnik, the managing director and Maik Franz, the director of sport. The latter has in the last four years assembled the squad that gained promotion in 2018, the one that got relegated a year later and the one that now struggles to fend off the worst fears: relegation back to the fourth division. No one wants that. Yet, the ghost of those 25 years in this very division has silently crept back into the minds and the stands in the newly extended north stand of the ground and surely in other places inside the stadium. Those old enough will remember. The question often asked over the last few weeks was whether Meuselwitz are still playing in the fourth division. They do and are 9th in their division with 27 points.

It should not come that far. And it will not.

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