Friedhelm Funkel had clear ideas about the reward for his successfully completed rescue mission. “On Sunday I will probably drink a bottle or two of wine with friends – outside and with enough distance -, have a delicious meal and enjoy what we have just achieved together in Cologne,” the 67-year-old announced before his return flight to the cathedral city . Sun and temperatures of around 20 degrees in the Rhineland played the bearded trainer on his return to retirement the day after the 5: 1 in Kiel as well as the Cologne lawn staff – who started their vacation late on Sunday.
Because of the relegation games against the second division third from the Baltic Sea, the billy goat club had to detain for a week – and the final cheering scenes under the postcard-blue Kiel sky followed Funkel’s successor Steffen Baumgart where the 49-year-old has also spent the past four years of his life: in Paderborn. Born in Rostock in East Westphalia, he sat with friends in front of the television and saw a game that symbolized the season of the Cologne team that had ended.
“Whenever we had our backs to the wall,” recapitulated captain Jonas Hector, “we played games like we did today.” And goalkeeper Timo Horn emphasized: “FC simply belongs in the Bundesliga. We did everything we could to ensure that it continued. ”On the Kiel Fjord, the two heart-and-blood Cologne residents and their teammates barely escaped the pull of the soon to be unusually prominent with Bremen, Schalke, Hamburg or Düsseldorf occupied second division. But a lot will have to change around the Geißbockheim so that the big nail biting doesn’t start there again in a year.
The missing spectators because of the corona pandemic were a greater handicap for Effzeh than for other clubs, Horn presented an explanation for the past tremor season. The long absenteeism of important players such as Hector, Florian Kainz or the center forward Sebastian Andersson brought in by Union Berlin weighed heavily. But such injuries are not a unique selling point in Cologne – and the reasons why the emotionally charged club was only able to avert relegation from relegation to the Bundesliga are complex.
Sports director Horst Heldt has been criticized for a long time. Regardless of the final offensive fireworks against the Kieler, who was completely drained after 11 games in 37 days, the native Rhinelander is mainly accused of having no powerful additions to the injury-prone Sweden after the free transfer from Simon Terodde to Hamburg and the sale of Jhon Córdoba to Hertha BSC in the attack Having pulled Andersson ashore.
“We have some tricky tasks to solve, but that’s also the attraction,” said Steffen Baumgart, who had risen from second to the first division, with a thirst for action. In the storm occupation, for example, the future coach is likely to plan firmly with the former Cologne goal hero Anthony Modeste, who was last loaned to Saint-Étienne, but had to end the season prematurely because of an adductor surgery.
Despite being relegated, the FC’s financial situation remains difficult. Corona resulted in a loss of sales of over 60 million euros. High performers like Ellyes Skhiri or Sebastiaan Bornauw are unlikely to be retained with lucrative offers. Friedhelm Funkel (“I’m completely flat, but happy”) initially refrained from giving advice to the makers in Cologne’s green belt, but said: “It may well be that I stay in contact with the people there. I believe that in the last seven weeks with my experience I have seen, experienced and felt a lot that may have to be done differently. “