The beginning of the year was not easy for Magdeburg as they had to play six matches in three weeks. The rewards is meagre. There is unrest at the Club, now more than ever and the pressure is as high as ever.
Readers in January will be aware that there are some words missing as the coverage so far had only five matches of the prospected seven reported on. This shall serve as a conclusion.
After the away match at Halle, Magdeburg were due to play TSV 1860 Munich, a former Cup winner and European Cup Finalist, hoping to move a tier up at the end of the season. Playing wise they are already in contrast to Magdeburg in the pen-ultimate match of the month. The hosts were just under the line, level on points with Kaiserslautern and Unterhaching. Munich were in second place. Between them were sixteen points. Moreover, on the night there was a gulf between them. The visitors were simply better and went ahead after nine minutes. The goal would have made Charles Reep proud. It started with the goalkeeper passing to a defender who played a pass towards midfield where a lunge helped to poke the ball forward, where the centre forward simply connected easily without being hassled by the central defenders and ran towards goal. Magdeburg’s keeper rushed off his line but was rounded by Sebastian Lex who put the ball into an empty net; 0:1. Too easy, too early.
Munich had another few chances before half-time but could not convert their superiority into goals. Magdeburg had one chance when Steiniger was through on goal but was denied by the Munich keeper, Marko Hiller.
The second half was a demonstration of Munich’s class. Magdeburg had little to counter. Yet, the goals came too easy. Twice a free kick from a similar position, twice the same strategy: long ball in, a lay-off and goal. Twice the same trick – did Magdeburg not learn?!
The problem was freshness. It is little wonder that Magdeburg were depleted and could not keep up – they were playing the fourth game in two weeks with literally the same starting XI. It worked twice against away at Unterhaching and Duisburg. In the third game, Halle, there was little energy left and Halle had space to roam. It is therefore alarming that the same XI plays week in and week out. It may be an indicator that the squad is not strong enough in depth, that there are issues in the relation between coach and squad; the fans argue that the latter is the case. Maybe it is just guess work but something is not quite right. The team being constantly involved in a relegation battle, since spring 2020, leaves little to no space to argue otherwise. There is a problem.
The final game of the month was another one away, at Cologne. Alas, it was called off due to the pitch being unplayable after heavy rain. This gives Magdeburg one more mid-week game in the coming weeks. However, it gave the coaching team the chance to regenerate the squad to make little adjustments and prepare them for what is to come: Dynamo Dresden at home. Another derby and under normal circumstances this would be one of the highlights of the season. Not so this year. Dynamo are top of the league, though they lost away at Mannheim recently and their match against Bayern’s reserves was called off.
There are two more points that need discussing: for the away match at Köln, Christian Beck, who has been with the Club for eight years now was not nominated for the first time ever. Except for suspensions or injuries he has been on the team sheet. ALWAYS. This is a novelty and will have repercussions for either side. Has Beck fallen out of favour with the coach, even the club? The coach will have his reasons but it is important to highlight that earlier in January Beck retired from wearing the captain’s armband followed by messages of support from the coach and many others at the club. Coach Hoßmang even expressed his intention to help Beck getting back to form so that he can help the team. Nothing has followed that up, so far.
Late last week, the members of the club, most notably the ultras have called for an extraordinary annual general meeting. They feel left out, they feel betrayed. Moreover, this AGM they called for should be in presence, i.e. NOT digital in order to have their say which is not the case these days. Of course, during pandemic times this is almost impossible to organise but it is a signal that the club must heed.
January 2021 was a difficult month; lockdown and all put an extra strain on everyone’s lives. Magdeburg have not life for themselves easier, quite the opposite. The positives are that they no longer sit at the bottom of the table and stay within reach of the non-relegation zone as the clubs around this line have all 21 points. Magdeburg could have won 21 points in those seven matches scheduled for January – take one game off, Cologne and there remain six, of which three were lost, one draw and only two wins were recorded. Enough? Never. The yield is not even fifty per cent of the maximum points available and the goal difference is negative due to the defeat against Munich.
February will be just as crucial as the last month and probably every month until the end of the season will be.