The Great Escape 2... ⋆ An Old International

The Great Escape 2…

Magdeburg have done it. Again. They have saved themselves from going down to the fourth division by beating FC Saarbrücken away; one of the best teams this season had no chance in a 3-0 home defeat against Magdeburg who are by now one of the in form in Europe. What a turn around but also what a nerve-racking season it has been. The fan community tore itself apart over the discussion whether the entire management team should be sacked: coach and his assistants, managing director, advisory board – the lot, while the team slowly but steadily trundled towards the drop.

In fact they hardly found themselves above the line throughout the season until March. Normally, this means the end for a team as moral is down and confidence non existent. However, in came Christian Titz and all that has been going on before was forgotten. Let’s stay with the before and look at it.

The season 2019/20 was a special one: Magdeburg were relegated from Bundesliga 2 and thus many players left the club, including the coach, Michael Oenning. This is understandable but the careers of some of them left no other choice but to think: had they better stayed.

With the departure of many, there was logically an influx of new players and coach, Stefan Krämer. Life proved to be difficult for Magdeburg yet a spot in the middle region of the table was nonetheless always occupied by the blue whites.

Then came December 2019 and the journey into a country called Absurdistan began accompanied by misery. Krämer was fired and replaced by Claus Dieter ‚Pele’ Wollitz, a coach who was not popular with the fans and in hindsight, the team. Additionally, cracks in the facade of the club appeared. Not only the signing of Wollitz but also the communication became awry.

Corona altered the season even more; we will never know what would have happened had Wollitz stayed. He was however, replaced by the head of the youth academy, Thomas Hoßmang, a former player with Dynamo Dresden among others. He saved the club from a possible relegation and took on the role of head coach for 2020/21. Albeit, it was no fairy tale as the team played incredibly dour football. Not only dour but clue- and hapless. It was a misalliance that lasted too long and almost brought the club to its knees. Calls of the fans went unheard – of course they did, since when does the board of directors of any listen to fans?! However, said board had their heads in the sand or Hoßmang had his hands on their balls – whatever the truth – he was not sacked. Relief finally came in February when he decided to call it a day. After a 1-0 home defeat to Dresden, he has had enough.

Rejoice, was order the order of the day for the supporters, though not for long as questions who would replace Hoßmang were widely discussed. Names were dropped, someone was seen in Magdeburg – the rumour mill was in full swing.

Thankfully, the sporting director had a name up his sleeve no one had thought of: Christian Titz. Alas, after three games there was no effect, no turnaround, just better play but no points. At this stage everyone, literally everyone had written off Magdeburg. This was it. No more third division but amateur football. Again.

What came next beggars belief. From March 2 until May Magdeburg have not lost a single game, scored almost twenty goals but conceded only four. Their streak has reached ten games (and counting!!!) without defeat before it was clear that Magdeburg will NOT go down and assured that they play third division football next season. From those ten matches, Magdeburg have gathered 26 points from 30 possible.

It is a minor miracle it has to be said. With such a performance week in and week out over a season, the Boerde Kickers would have been promoted long before the end of the season. In doing so, in getting out of the bottom four and into the middle regions of the table, Magdeburg have played some very nice football. Once more, something many would not have thought possible. This team can play and they want to play. Within weeks the confidence and the swagger were back.

Magdeburg have done the unthinkable twice: escaped from relegation. Those two years since going down in spring 2019 were hard and took a heavy toll on the club, their supporters. There is a new dawn looming however, a better future. For now most fans would surely be happy to have a season during .which Magdeburg simply ply their trade and finish maybe seventh or eighth but have nothing to do with relegation. A push for promotion may just come that bit too early, but would be taken into the stride, of course.

For now the Great Escape has been accomplished again and no one wants to have it back anytime soon.

Update: As of May 8, 2021, Magdeburg have extended their streak to eleven games without defeat. They beat MSV Duisburg 3-2. An incredible run!

Good writing does not come by chance, so consider this:

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