When Cologne final traveled to the Westfalenstadion again in January, most of the supporters within the away finish missed Borussia Dortmund’s opening objective as a result of they have been nonetheless holding up sheets of plastic as a part of a pre-match choreography.
Happily, or fairly sadly for Cologne followers, one other 4 Dortmund objectives adopted that day, two scored by Erling Haaland, making his debut off the bench. Nevertheless it wasn’t the tip of the world.
The guests hadn’t been anticipating to win and, with 81,365 folks — together with this author — having fun with reasonably priced tickets, standing terraces, a beer and a Bratwurst underneath the lights in Germany’s largest stadium, a great evening was nonetheless had by all. Cologne went on to win 4 of their subsequent 5 video games, and all seemed well on the banks of the Rhine.
That every one appears a protracted, very long time in the past now. COVID-19 noticed soccer placed on maintain in March and Cologne have not gained a recreation since. The carnival membership is in disaster once more.
A 2-1 defeat at residence to high-flying Union Berlin final weekend made it 18 video games with no win for Cologne. The Billy Goats solely have three factors from eight video games this season. Solely 12 groups have ever began a Bundesliga season in worse type (together with Cologne themselves in 2017-18), and solely 4 survived (that Cologne group was not one in all them).
On Saturday, they return to Dortmund to face BVB and the seemingly unstoppable Haaland in a stadium the place they have not gained since 1991. Similar to in January, they don’t seem to be anticipated to win, however reviews in Germany counsel that one other thrashing may see sporting director Horst Heldt pull the plug on head coach Markus Gisdol after only one 12 months and 9 days in cost.
“We’re too good,” stated the 51-year-old former Hoffenheim and Hamburg coach. “Notably in these corona video games when it is quiet out on the pitch, the place the hearth is lacking, that is the place we have to push ourselves extra.”
Gisdol has a status as a energetic, energetic and hard coach and, in keeping with German sports activities journal kicker, the gamers get pleasure from his strategies: “They just like the coaching, they benefit from the genuine periods they usually all pull collectively … solely to break down as quickly because it will get severe.”
Writing in the identical publication, legendary goalkeeper and former board member Toni Schumacher additionally bemoaned the gamers’ angle throughout video games.
“They appear clueless, scared, timidly ready for defeat,” he wrote. “Markus Gisdol’s strategy is vibrant and inspiring however, as soon as the sport kicks off, he is too typically a king with no kingdom, a common who the troops will not comply with.”
With Cologne’s winless run (their longest because the 2005-06 season) coinciding with the absence of followers, it is tempting to see a correlation.
With a famously fanatical help and common residence attendances of fifty,000 in non-pandemic occasions, even within the second division, Cologne are amongst these golf equipment who arguably profit most from their followers.
Having stated that, a look up the desk on the likes of newly promoted Stuttgart, underdogs Union Berlin and native rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach exhibits that groups with good help can nonetheless make it work in these unprecedented circumstances.
300 Cologne followers have been allowed to attend the derby in opposition to Borussia Mönchengladbach, and noticed one other defeat.
Extra quantifiable explanations will be present in Cologne’s lack of ability to create possibilities from open play — just one in every of the current video games in opposition to Union and Werder Bremen.
Then there’s the fundamental errors and lapses of focus.
On opening day, they got here from behind twice in opposition to Hoffenheim solely to concede an injury-time winner. In an away loss at Bielefeld, the more and more unreliable Timo Horn was overwhelmed at his close to submit. Extra errors contributed to a derby defeat to Gladbach, whereas Stuttgart wanted solely 24 seconds to stroll by means of a stationary Cologne protection and take the lead.
Placing in a mean of 114 tackles per recreation (second solely to Stuttgart) suggests effort will not be in query. However with lower than half of them profitable, and a file six penalties conceded after simply eight video games, the standard of these challenges definitely is.
Up entrance, new signing Sebastian Andersson has solely managed two objectives to date (one from the penalty spot) and can miss the journey to Dortmund by means of harm. One-time cult hero Anthony Modeste has additionally did not mild up Müngersdorf the way in which he as soon as did, scoring solely 4 objectives final season and lacking most of this season with a again harm.
A disaster in Cologne would not be full with no collection of off-the-field intrigues.
The chairman of the members’ council was pressured to step down following leaked emails and rising criticism of chief government Alexander Wehrle, who’s at risk of overseeing a second relegation since 2018. Amplified by the extreme media protection of the membership in an emotional metropolis, it is a plot to match any Netflix drama.
Schalke is perhaps “tearing themselves apart” and stealing the headlines, however Cologne appear intent on reminding the Bundesliga that they’re Germany’s preeminent disaster membership.