Viktor Skripnik’s Year at Werder Bremen

It was on October 25, 2014 that Werder Bremen reserve team coach Vitor Skripnik took over the managerial duties at Bremen after a terrible start to the season led to the sacking of predecessor Robin Dutt. The Green and Whites were in a dire situation as a winless run of 9 games and only 4 points put them heading for relegation early on. The 1-0 loss to Köln was a cry for help and it’s the match that brought the hiring of Skripnik.

The former Bremen defender didn’t take long to show what he had to offer. Under him Werder Bremen was one of the teams to watch in the league. Their prolific attacking duo of Franco Di Santo and Davie Selke was clicking, midfielder Zlatko Junuzovic was showing his class and all in all they were winning game after game. And most notable of their wins was the 2-1 victory against Borussia Dortmund at the end of the Hinrunde.

Skripnik didn’t take long to restore faith in the dressing room. His team went on to finish in a respectable mid table place.

But then the new manager faced a new challenge as he lost his top players Di Santo and Selke to Schalke and RB Leipzig respectively. This would require rebuilding his attacking force and it still has been a problem in the new season. Things haven’t really got up to speed for the Ukrainian as he lost his season opener 3-0 to Schalke. And following that a couple of winless runs have seen the team go backwards in the table standing, as they enter MatrchDay 11 in 14th place with a 3-1-6 record. Despite their Pokal success in midweek Bremen are yet to impose themselves in the league. And this is partly due to the fact that top summer signing Anthony Ujah is yet to reach his high standards at his new club, although he did score twice in the MatchDay 10 win over Mainz, breaking a three-game scoreless streak for Werder, and notched the only goal in Werder’s Pokal win over Köln.

For all the change and excitement he has brought to the north German club last season, Skripnik’s Werder Bremen are having a disappointing season.  He will look to turn things around fast but his job will not get any easier as the high-flying Black and Yellows come to town on Saturday.

Nor is Skripnik’s task of igniting Werder’s attack any easier with the most recent news that American international Aron Johannsson, who was thought to be sidelined for a few weeks, will most likely miss the remainder of the Hinrunde following hip surgery.  Former AZ Alkmaar man Johannsson has had a slower start than hoped for to his first season in the Bundesliga, with two goals so far in league play, but has shown the ability to handle improved competition in every step forward in his professional career as he’s progressed from the playing in Iceland to the Danish Superliga and then to the Eredivisie and a spot on the American World Cup squad.  Certainly that ability was strongly considered when Johannsson was signed.

It’s still early days and there is a lot to play for in the coming weeks. Looking at his one year stay at the helm it’s safe to say that he has done a great job in turning the fortunes of a team which was heading in the wrong direction, but that his good work needs to continue.

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Brook lives in Ethiopia, and started following the Bundesliga from a very young age. His favourite players then were Thomas Rosicky - the reason he became a Dortmund fan! - and Marcelinho of Hertha Berlin. He likes to watch, read, write and talk about football with special interest in discussing emerging young talents. Follow @brookge