Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Clock Ticking On Thomas Schaaf?

There are not many 'one-club men' around in football and certainly not many who could match the dedication that Thomas Schaaf has shown to Werder Bremen.

Schaaf joined Bremen as a 10-year-old and has been with the club since 1972. After over 280 appearances for the first-team, Schaaf took over as Assistant manager following short spells as a youth coach at Bremen while he was still playing in the first-team. His big break came in 1999 when he took over first-team duties from Felix Magath and was thrown right into a relegation dogfight which saw Bremen surviving by the skin of their teeth on the final day.

His twelve years so far as Bremen manager have been very successful with a number of trophies heading to the Weserstadion. Since Schaaf replaced Magath in 99, Bremen have won three German Cups, the German League Cup in 2006 and the Bundesliga in 2004.

Not bad I suppose?

But questions are being asked of Schaaf and Bremen after what has been a fairly abysmal Bundesliga season so far. Werder Bremen sit in 14th position and are just 1 point away from the relegation positions. The team has struggled throughout the season and the sale of Mesut Ozil in the summer could have had a huge impact in Bremen's downfall. Ozil was a huge part of Bremen's side last season as he used his exceptional talent to link the midfield to a very strong attack.

The Bremen fans have became accustomed to the club cashing in on the best players at the club like Diego, Borowski, Klose and Klasnic who were all sold on in the past 4 or 5 years. The sale of Mesut Ozil may just be one step too far.

Thomas Schaaf does like to implement a very attacking strategy and the mentality usually revolves around just scoring one more than the opposition. Defensively, Bremen are just as brittle with Mertesacker and Silvestre not covering themselves in much glory this season.

However, the attacking prowess has dried up this season and the likes of Pizarro and Marin have not been able to replicate the form of last season. Bremen also sold Portuguese striker Hugo Almeida in January which has made the position Pizarro's regardless of performances. Ozil's departure has been a huge blow for Bremen and the German international was fantastic at switching and linking the play between Aaron Hunt and Marko Marin last season.

It is certainly not a recipe for success when your losing goals and not scoring them. So far this season, Bremen have lost 44 goals and have scored just the 28.

Werder Bremen have only ever been relegated once from the Bundesliga and their form this season would suggest that 2011 could be a dull and emotional roller coaster for Bremen and Thomas Schaaf. The board at the Weserstadion have a massive decision to make - stick with Schaaf or abruptly change the management team to get a reaction from an under-performing squad?

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