Numb ⋆ An Old International

Numb

The fixture Dresden vs Magdeburg is one loaded with stories and history. Both teams dominated East German football in the 1970s, had their fare share of European games and suffered equally post-1990. However, thirty years of hurt both find themselves in Germany’s third division where life is not always easy and pleasant as it may be in the glitzy world of the Bundesliga.

Fear and Trepidation

From a Magdeburg point of view the match was seen with trepidation and fear: the last games have been a nightmare. One point from a possible nine, only one goal scored but five conceded. That is relegation form. During these initial weeks of the new season discussions raged across the board whether or not the coach is out of his depth (most would say so and press conferences, post math interviews as well as the starting formations, indicate that he may be lost at this level), or the squad is not good enough (it is good, it lacks structure and a match plan, flexibility but above all, confidence) and if the board of directors really see the whole picture of the situation or if they are only lap dogs of Mario Kallnik (he currently fills two posts, that of managing AND sporting director; lately his hand for strong signings have been placed in doubt by supporters and sponsors alike).

The opposite side, Dynamo Dresden are by their own fans’ admission equally not particularly good even though they are seen as top favourites to get promoted again. The opening day win at Kaiserslautern gave this belief some nurture but a draw against Mannheim and a 3:0 defeat away at Bayern II leave Dresden sitting in mid-table obscurity for now. That is still better than last place, where Magdeburg find themselves before the match at Dresden.

Harmless

The match itself is quickly narrated: Dynamo made the game, Magdeburg reacted, tried to stifle the home side’s efforts as best as they could and occasionally went forward. There were two (TWO) occasions in which Magdeburg had something that is widely called a chance to score a goal. They were harmless. On many occasions going forward and upon crossing the halfway line, the player with the ball slowed down and turned around to play the ball back to a defender who then tried to hoof it long where the Dynamo defense was already back and had no problems at all in dealing with such an easy attempt of an attack. There were no passes out wide where the wingers could have used their pace. Nor was there movement enough to offer passing possibilities, thus the backpasses.

On the positive side it has to be said that Magdeburg did well to stifle Dresden’s attacks. The back four looked solid, though permitted a few chances but by and large they were on top.

The only goal came from a half heartedly defended free kick from the right after 54 minutes. The ball was in the air for long enough time yet bot, the ball and the run were precisely timed. It hit the header the cross bar from where it bounced back into the area where Yannick Sturm stormed forward to volley the ball home. In doing so, he was not hindered by the Magdeburg defense; there were two players relatively close but just not close enough to throw themselves into the shot or stick out a leg to deflect the ball.

Numb and Deflated

It deflated Magdeburg and in the time until the final whistle they had no idea how to get back into the game. All energy was sapped from the team, even the substitution of Christian Beck, the captain did not revive the team. Largely because the formation remained unchanged, leaving the forwards disconnected from midfield and thus hanging in the air. This is the task of the coach to alter approach and he has failed; not only against Dresden but also against Halle and Köln at home.

The defeat left supporters feeling numb, uncomfortably numb. It is the worst start to a season in a long time, possibly ever. The sacking of the coach is demanded, which is of course understandable but is also the easiest way for the club to rid themselves of responsibilities for a squad that is slightly imbalanced but seriously mistuned.

There are two days before Friday’s home match against Türkgücü, a promoted side who play with the verve and desire Magdeburg used to show when promoted. Something has to happen.

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