“Everything else is window dressing” – Cologne coach Baumgart calls for a relegation battle
1. FC Köln has been in crisis since the acclaimed 3-2 win against Dortmund. Games every three days and bad luck with injuries have left their mark. Coach Steffen Baumgart sees the team at a crossroads after the bankruptcy in Berlin.
In the black polo shirt with the number 72 on it and the iconic flat cap on his head, Steffen Baumgart once again gave the ball of energy on the edge of the field. He paced up and down his coaching zone, gesticulating, cheering, clapping his hands. Judging by the coach’s commitment, his team would have deserved three points in the guest appearance at the Berlin Olympic Stadium before the longest winter break in the history of the Bundesliga. But in the end Hertha was 2-0 up on the scoreboard – the numerical expression of a crisis that has recently come to a head dramatically.
Since the acclaimed 3:2 against Borussia Dortmund on October 1st, 1. FC Köln is more of a relegation candidate than a contender for renewed participation in the European Cup. The traditional club only got four silly points from seven Bundesliga games in that period and were also knocked out of the Europa Conference League as third in the group. Operations every three days have left their mark. “The boys are through. I was the only one who was relatively fit,” Baumgart said after the recent bankruptcy in Berlin.
Little money, many injuries
The reasons for the sudden crash are to be found in the club’s tight purse and in an unimagined number of injuries to the kicking staff: In the summer, 1. FC not only lost their two best players of the previous season in Salih Özcan and Anthony Modeste (for around ten million euros to Borussia Dortmund), but was then also hit by bad luck with injuries like hardly any other football club in league one: Baumgart’s team were temporarily missing six regular players. With 17 points, the club is currently 13th in the table.
In the analysis they are quite honest in Cologne. “We didn’t get the points in the last few games, unfortunately that means a relegation battle at the moment,” explained Baumgart. “Everything else is window dressing. After the break, we have to be focused for the remainder of the season,” said the coach. “At many clubs, the players are through. With so many appointments, you get the feeling that you’re in show business and no longer in football. But we have to accept that and get back up.”
The undertaking should be quite difficult if such slapstick numbers as in Berlin are added and repeated in the new year. There, striker Sargis Adamyan missed a 1000 percent chance after Wilfried Kanga made it 0-1 (9 minutes into the game) when he couldn’t put the ball in the empty Hertha goal from three yards out. “I’ve never forgiven something like that, I don’t know myself how I couldn’t put it in,” said the access afterwards, annoyed. “The ball bounces up a bit beforehand and I don’t hit it properly. Then he just went over it. Of course, we wished for a better annual financial statement. But after the last few weeks and months we are glad that we can take a breather now.”
At least the prevented goal scorer received encouragement from his colleagues to compensate. “Sargis’ missed chance suits our games of the last few weeks,” said fellow striker Linton Maina. “It was a difficult ball, because it was still ticking shortly beforehand. This is difficult for everyone. We don’t blame anyone – we could still have scored our goals. Of the past games that we lost, we could have won one or the other. It’s annoying, but I believe luck will come back at some point. We’ve got a lot of games under our belts and the break will do us all good. Next year we will attack again.”