Traditions take a long time to be established and even then they are still suspected to be invented. Magdeburg’s failure to win the first league match in the last five years is not invented, it is purely home made.
This new season is under way and supporters of Magdeburg may have a very common feeling after witnessing the home defeat against Halle on Sunday afternoon. It was after all, the fifth time that Magdeburg have lost their season opener. Out of those five the last three were the start to rather difficult seasons.
Just to remind readers that Magdeburg were promoted to the third division in 2015 and managed to beat Erfurt in their first match in 2015 in their premiere season at this level. Fans will rejoice at the memory of Lars Fuchs scoring the winner late in the game. Magdeburg finished a creditable fourth in this very first time they played professional soccer again since 1991.
The following season saw the beginning of a pattern that now has established itself thoroughly. Magdeburg were host to Fortuna Köln and had no chance in a 3:0 hammering. The season was a repetition of the previous one: Magdeburg finished fourth, two points from third place. At the end they ran out of steam and the fourth place finish was a just result of their capabilities.
The following year was the one people are still talking about as Magdeburg dominated the division and were runaway winners in May. Though at the beginning there was a sobering 4:1 thrashing given out by Sonnenhof Großaspach. Magdeburg were 3:0 down before Lohkemper reduced the deficit. Only four minutes later Großaspach scored again. It was the first of seven defeats this season as they broke the points record with 85. Had the euphoria of promotion carried them to victory against Erfurt in 2015, they paid a high price only three years later.
The Bundesliga 2 is a different thing altogether and from the opening day of the 2018/19 season Magdeburg were on the back foot, trying to get to grips with the level of play. Alas, it was futile and after just thirteen games, the inevitable happened: the second most successful coach in the club’s history, Jens Härtel, had to leave. It followed a constant struggle to stay up and until April they were always within reach of the non-relegation places but eventually Magdeburg were found to be too light for this division. Down they went and the re-structuring began, albeit without any significant improvement.
Once again a new coach, Stefan Krämer, was appointed with the brief to form a team and keep the club in the upper half of the table. The start to his tenure was in typical manner a defeat, this time it was against Braunschweig. A 4:2 defeat was not too alarming yet it didn’t get much better after that. What followed was a season that remained thrilling until the very end; it was exhausting and with only two matches left, Magdeburg prevented another relegation. Add to that any difficulties due to Corona and it seems every supporter has significantly aged during last season.
Fast forward September 2020 and it has now become an established tradition that the first league game of the season ends in defeat. What makes this last one sting is the fact that it came against Halle, the local rival. For years, almost a decade they could not win in Magdeburg and yet their win seemed comfortable in all departments which kickstarted a heated debate whether this season will be a repetition of the last. Given the general trajectory of the last three years, something has to happen.