BERLIN (AP) Borussia Dortmund coach Peter Bosz and Cologne counterpart Peter Stoeger both face decisive games with their teams in crisis.
Dortmund, which hasn’t won in the Bundesliga since September, will visit Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday, while winless Cologne faces a tough game at Schalke.
Following its best ever start, Dortmund has only one win in 10 competitive matches. The team even threw away a four-goal lead to draw 4-4 with Schalke last weekend in the Ruhr derby.
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”It’s completely understandable that the fans and the south stand whistled today,” Dortmund midfielder Nuri Sahin said after Saturday’s match. ”The fact is we stand behind the coach.”
Bosz had no explanation after his team’s sixth league game without a win, but he has been given the go-ahead to continue, with chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke calling on him to ”turn every stone” to get Dortmund back to success.
Still, a loss at Leverkusen would almost certainly mean the beginning of the end. Speculation on his successor has already begun, with Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann reportedly a candidate to take over next season, while former Eintracht Frankfurt coach Armin Veh and Germany youth coach Horst Hrubesch are both linked as interim options.
”That’s just a distraction,” Bosz said Thursday, when he acknowledged the pressure he was under.
Stoeger’s position is arguably safer than Bosz’s despite the fact that Cologne has made the worst start of any team in 54 years of the league.
Last weekend’s 2-0 loss at home to Hertha Berlin was the team’s 11th loss in 13 games. Even Tasmania Berlin, the club that played the worst ever Bundesliga season after its forced promotion for political reasons in 1965, had more points and more goals scored at this stage of the season.
Stoeger, however, has been hampered by bad luck, poor decisions and injuries – he was forced to play 16-year-old central defender Yann-Aurel Bisseck on Sunday, making him the second-youngest player to appear in the league.
The decision to part company with managing director Joerg Schmadtke last month did not lead to any improvement on the field, and the club’s efforts to lure Horst Heldt as his replacement ended on Thursday after his current club, Hannover, refused to let him leave.
”Out of respect for Hannover we have decided at this early stage not to continue the talks,” Cologne president Werner Spinner said.
Schmadtke, who joined Cologne in 2013, helped the team secure promotion as champions of the second division in 2014 and oversaw steady progress over the following seasons. However, Schmadtke also allowed top-scorer Anthony Modeste to leave and Cologne has struggled for goals since with only four scored in 13 league games.
Modeste chipped in 25 last season, but no one has filled the gap. Jhon Cordoba, who hasn’t scored in the league, is out injured for the rest of the year, French striker Sehrou Guirassy hasn’t been taking his chances, and there’s only so much you can expect from veteran Claudio Pizarro (39), signed as an emergency measure on Sept. 29.
The long injury list led to a demotion for fitness coach Benjamin Kugel this week, with Stoeger telling the Bild tabloid that he was just looking after the injured players.
Thoughts have already turned to the second division.
Cologne vice president Toni Schumacher told Kicker magazine on Thursday that the club is better prepared for relegation than it was for its last demotion in 2012.
”The club was in debt at the time and not far from the end,” Schumacher said. ”Today it’s completely different. Almost everything is right, just unfortunately the decisive thing is missing – sporting success.”