It's not where you're at, it's where you're from ⋆ An Old International

It’s not where you’re at, it’s where you’re from

Looking back always includes the dangers of regrets yet sometimes it is helpful to remind oneself of past struggles.

Well, it is done. Magdeburg have secured promotion and did so in style by dominating this division at will, making it clear that any team aiming for promotion would have to work hard to get past Magdeburg. With three matches for Magdeburg remaining, it is clear that no team had the qualities to surpass them. Magdeburg will be crowned champions of the third division for the second time after 2018.

In June 2021 no one would have given a thought about Magdeburg going up and going up in the manner they did. In June 2021 most fans – the writing one included – sighed a deep breath of relief that the worst seemed over and that after two years of turmoil, corona and almost slipping into oblivion a season of normalcy, and above all calm, would be lying ahead of the club. Everyone with a blue and white heart had to think again and were abundantly rewarded. Almost from the off, Magdeburg were in the top three and after seven matches, they were top and never relinquished this spot, even with a series of four matches in spring without a win, no one could bother them. Yes, there was some unrest but this team consists of human beings, not robots, therefore leniency was the order of the day.

However, while it is nice to bask in the warmth radiating from top spot and the fact of having won promotion as champions, it is important to have in mind these two very difficult years during which four coaches were hired, three of them subsequently fired or retired. Two years during which no or only a few fans were allowed into the grounds and football was devoid of any atmosphere. It was stripped bare to the bones and increasingly looked hollow. Two years during which Magdeburg tumbled and looked humbled. Two years which were a transformation period on and off the pitch, metamorphosing Magdeburg into a better team and more importantly into a better club for the their own future.

Joy when joy is due and the final whistle against Zwickau was a huge relief not just for those inside the ground but for everyone following online and or behind various screens. Yet, remember, it’s important where you’re from not where you’re at. The head coach above all has said so during the post match press conference and so has key player Baris Atik during a brief post match interview.

It’s not where you’re at, it’s where you’re from

The last three years have not been easy and yet when the period looked at is extended back to 2011/12 it becomes clear that 2019-2022 was a turbulent time but pales in comparison to the existential crisis of the 2011/12 season. This crisis must be seen as the watershed moment in the club’s history since 1990 and more importantly in its most recent history. Since 2012 and most notably since 2015 the club have been on an upward trajectory, a development that began in 2012. The season on the pitch was an absolute disaster and Magdeburg were saved from the ignominy of going down to the fifth division only by the mere fact that the regional football association, NOFV, re-structured the league pyramid and thus Magdeburg remained a fourth division club.

There were positive news, however: in late April 2012 Andreas Petersen was appointed as head coach for the 2012/13 season. He assembled the core of the squad a certain Jens Härtel would inherit in 2014 and whom he took to promotion in 2015. Among the signings made by Petersen was a certain Christian Beck who has scored 149 times in 282 games, making him the third best goal scorer for Magdeburg behind Joachim Streich and Jürgen Sparwasser.

Another vital signing was that of Mario Kallnik as managing director responsible for financial matters. Whatever financial and managerial brain he possesses, he turned the money fortunes around. So much so that Magdeburg have paid off their debts, made no losses during the corona pandemic despite the club not generating any gate revenue but relied on their sponsors and TV revenue.

What-if?

It is a „what-if“ scenario and little helpful but might aid to highlight the water shedding significance of the spring of 2012. Had the NOFV NOT decided to re-structure its leagues pyramid, Magdeburg would have been relegated, Andreas Petersen would not have been signed, nor a Christian Beck, nor a Jens Härtel. It may have happened later or not at all. This is mere speculation of course and thankfully history developed the other way: towards financial health and to these moments:

Magdeburg vs Kickers Offenbach, 2015

Promotion 2022

© title photo: FCMGeschichte via WikiCommons under CC BY-SA 4.0

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