This season will be one of the hardest for FC Magdeburg. The team still suffer from last season’s traumatic finale and have not yet found their mettle. The first English week, i.e. playing in a weekend-mid-week-weekend rhythm proved to be a litmus test. One that pointed the club into either direction: up or down.
A Reaction: Magdeburg vs Türkgüçü München
After the non aggression pact Magdeburg had offered in Dresden, a reaction was expected, if not demanded. The media, the fans, the non playing staff and even the team themselves needed a break, something to demonstrate that they have the ability to compete in this division. The opposite side were Türkgüçü München, newly promoted and with some serious swagger. They were unbeaten, had played 4-4 in an entertaining match against Waldhof Mannheim, beat Kaiserslautern and had scored six and conceded as many. In Sararer and Slišković this team possesses two unbelievably agile attacking players.
To the credit of Magdeburg they not only held Türkgüçü at bay, had luck on their side or rather the posts, managed to score twice and kept a clean sheet. The starting XI was a bit of a call to arms: Beck, Bertram and Gjasula all were on the bench or not even in the squad for the game. It was a courageous decision and could have backfired horrendously but it did not. It paid off.
Both teams had their chances and Magdeburg were lucky not to be one down after 30 minutes. It so happened that a long pass on the left side found Andreas Müller who made a few steps before crossing into the box. The ball curled toward goal and Franzke jumped in to confuse the keeper. 1:0.
Observers rubbed their eyes in bewilderment as the team played some football! Something not seen in a while in Magdeburg. However, it was 1:0 and Türkgüçü had their chances, the best was a scissor kick of Slišković that hit the post, again. After 80 minutes it was game over as Brünker made it two for Magdeburg with the help of the post: his header hit the inside of the post and curled into the net. 2:0.
This was a performance that gave hope and optimism for the games ahead, something it was thought everyone involved would take on board and elaborate on.
60 Minute Sleep: Verl vs Magdeburg
A point away at Verl, a promoted team that started better than Magdeburg (it is not THAT difficult this year) would have underlined just that: the team and coaches have found a common ground and from there on would march forward to play out a decent season. It turned out that this was a fan’s wet dream as the team just did not happen during the first hour of this encounter. After seven minutes the Club were 1:0 down and had no shot on goal during a horror show of a first half time. After 63 minutes it was 3:0 before Andreas Müller scored in his second consecutive game. It was the beginning of a chase that Magdeburg could only lose. The good point was that they conceded no further goal but equally scored neither up front.
The lesson learned from this match was a game of football lasts ninety minutes and not only thirty. It was almost the same starting XI from the previous game but a whole different mindset. This was unbelievably bad.
Was the match against Türkgüçü a step forward, this was a step back.
Throwing a game away: Magdeburg vs Wiesbaden
If Magdeburg did wake up late against Verl, a few days later they were present immediately from kick off against SV Wehen Wiesbaden yet could not reward themselves during interesting 45 minutes in the first half. It was an open match and either side could have scored. Beck, back in the starting formation had a huge double chance just four minutes into the game but a great double save by Wiesbaden’s keeper prevented him from scoring. This action set the tone for the match. And this time they rewarded themselves. It was Burger who use tackled the ball into the net after a free kick. This was looking good and should have given the blue and whites courage and confidence to keep the three points at home. This hope lasted just over 12 minutes when Wiesbaden equalised. Even at 1:1 it would have meant four points from a possible nine I eight days. Alas, with just over a quarter of an hour to play Wiesbaden took the lead. For Magdeburg there was no way back into the game no matter how hard they tried.
It was a somewhat unfortunate defeat, one where the team defeated themselves rather than were outplayed or found out too easily. This it was not. However, the lack of nous and callousness in this match was telling as it has been one of the threads seen one too many times already in this still young season. It is one thing to freeze in such situation and quite another to substitute a player whose form is in decline and so weaken the whole team on the pitch. It so happened when Bertram came into the match. For more than a year he has been more or less carried through the season by his team mates rather than taking the team forward. This is the coach’s responsibility and here he failed as he has in a few other ways and not only in this match.
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
One thing is clear: Magdeburg have not done well in these past eight days. Just three points from a possible nine, scoring four goals but conceding five. It is not confidential that they have potential, yet too often they fail to trigger it and carry it onto the pitch. They have done so for ninety minutes against Türkgüçü and for short periods in the games afterwards but not for 270 minutes, i.e. three entire matches. There is still a huge mountain to climb for Magdeburg. It is the task of the coach to get it right.