The dismissal of the coach at Arminia Bielefeld – the fall follows the descent

Uli Forte knew exactly how things were with him. “The spiral is turning faster and more intensely,” said the Arminia Bielefeld coach. As a person responsible for sport, he was not exempt from investigating the cause. “Unfortunately, I already know the business too well. I have to accept that and try to find solutions,” the Swiss declared after the 2-0 loss to Hamburger SV. It was the fourth defeat in a row for the Bundesliga relegated team.

Bielefeld have not won in all leagues since February, and the head coach must have guessed what was decided on Tuesday morning: Arminia and the 48-year-old will go their separate ways from now on. The club released its coach.

The situation in East Westphalia is serious. The team, which had been traded as one of the favorites for promotion before the start of the season, seems disoriented and the coach at a loss. The fans are horrified and the club management was under pressure: should the ripcord be pulled after the fourth matchday? The replacement of Forte had already been expected for Monday. The board of directors met in the evening. However, there were initially no official announcements.

But the confidence in the new trainer had been used up in record time. The criticism of Forte, which came out after the HSV game, is massive: communication with players and assistant coaches, training control, leadership – there are said to be deficits in many areas.

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Coach Ulrich Massimo Forte is facing expulsion at Arminia

Source: dpa/Swen gatekeeper

“A coach or a player can also say: I’m not in a position to play now – put me out of this situation,” said sports director Samir Arabi on Sunday. This seems to be a subtle indication of how the Bielefeld could imagine solving the problem – in a conversation with Forte, at the end of which there may be a more or less amicable separation. Should that happen, it might also be the end of a misunderstanding.

Rapid crash

Arminia Bielefeld is an example of how quickly a club that has done a lot of things right in recent years can get into trouble because of a misjudgment in relation to an important position. The traditional club has already experienced many crises. One of the hardest had to be mastered at the turn of the year 2017/18: At that time, insolvency was threatening. As a result, an almost unprecedented restructuring succeeded. The debt could be rescheduled with massive support from the regional economy (“Bündnis Ostwestfalen”). Thanks to the new – and by Bielefeld standards almost unfamiliar – planning security, it was also possible to work on the sporting upswing. A candidate for relegation became a candidate for promotion.

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In the summer of 2020 the time had come: For the first time in eleven years, the DSC returned to the first division. The Bielefeld team managed to remain in the class there in the first year, although they were also reluctant to invest in the squad due to the effects of the corona pandemic. At the same time, a league-independent strategy was developed: Arminia wants to transform itself into a training club in the medium term; a club that will be characterized by developing talent – ​​either for its own team or to develop sources of income through transfers.

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A price had to be paid for the latter, however. The necessary rejuvenation of the professional team led to friction losses. Most commitments such as Robin Hack, Florian Krüger, Janni Serra or Bryan Lasme, all in their early 20s and without significant first division experience, did not materialize. At the end of the second Bundesliga year there was relegation. Coach Frank Kramer had already had to go before – failed due to the complexity of the task of staying in the class despite the team’s reorganization with modest means.

The descent was therefore seen as a setback, but by no means as a catastrophe. After all, the maxim was still to plan regardless of the league. “We know that Arminia is not a Croesus in the second division either. In terms of budget, we are in the middle of the field,” said Rainer Schütter, who was elected the new club president in June. Continuity on the path that was taken a good four years ago should be preserved.

Big loss of quality

In terms of sport, this meant that players should be relied on who failed to prove their suitability for the first division last season, but who can be expected to make a breakthrough in the lower house. However, the restart had to be tackled without top performers such as goalkeeper Stefan Ortega, central defenders Amos Pieper and Jaokim Nilsson, outside defenders Cedric Brunner and right winger Patrick Wimmer. Their departures represent a significant loss of quality.

Four games, four defeats: Fabian Klos (right) and Janni Serra are penultimate in the second division with Bielefeld

Four games, four defeats: Fabian Klos (right) and Janni Serra are penultimate in the second division with Bielefeld

Source: dpa

The calculation, to close the big gaps with players like Lukas Klünter, Oliver Hüsing, Bastian Oczipka, Silvan Sidler, Frederik Jäkel or Marc Rzatkowski, who are mostly free transfers or on loan, and to form a team that plays at least in the upper part of the second division, can still rise. However, this requires a rapid trend reversal. This, in turn, can only succeed with a strong coach.

According to the Bielefeld team, Uli Forte is not. It was a surprise that the 48-year-old, who last worked for the Swiss second division club Yverdon-Sport FC, got the job at all. As soon as he arrived in Bielefeld, Forte then amazed with idiosyncratic decisions: He appointed Fabian Klos, 34, as captain again. The longest-serving DSC professional had already been replaced as the captain’s armband a year earlier. Klos then even announced that he wanted to leave the club. A fresh start looks different.

All of this massively increased the pressure to act on the club management. If Arminia does not get back on track quickly, there is a risk of a relapse into dark times long thought to be over.



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