September 21, 2017

2015/16 Season Preview: 1.FC Nürnberg

1.FC Nürnberg

  • Nickname(s): Der Club.
  • Founded: 1900.
  • Ground: Grundig Stadion (50,000 capacity).
  • Colors: red and white.
  • Rivals: Greuther Fürth.

2014-15 Finishes:

  • 2. Bundesliga: 9th place (45 points, -5 GD).
  • DFB Pokal: 1st round exit (0-1 loss to MSV Duisburg).
  • Top Goal Scorer: Jakub Sylvestr (9 goals).

“60-second dossier”

Number of Matches won by 2 or more goals: 4 matches.

Number of Matches won by 1 goal: 7 matches.

Number of Matches drawn: 6 matches.

Number of Matches lost by 1 goal: 11 matches.

Number of Matches lost by 2 or more goals: 5 matches.

Number of matches in which a lead was blown, resulting in loss: 3 matches.

Number of matches in which a lead was blown, resulting in draw: 3 matches.

Number of matches in which a deficit was overcome to earn a draw: 3 matches. 

Number of matches in which a deficit was overcome to earn victory: 1 match.

2014-15 Season Summary

For the recently relegated club, 2014-15 was a disappointment to put it mildly. Ahead of the season, word on the block was that FCN would bounce right back into the top fight; after all, Nürnberg is the most promoted and relegated side in Bundesliga history. It’s only natural. But after an exodus of players, especially the likes of Josip Drmic, Hiroshi Kiyotake, Daniel Ginczek, and Timmy Chandler, it’s a wonder so much was expected from FCN last season in the Zweite Bundesliga. Really, come one, people. Many new faces – especially Jakub Sylvestr (from Aue) and Alessandro Schöpf (from Bayern) – mingled with burned out topflighers, who stuck it out, like Raphael Schäfer, Javier Pinola, and Jan Polak.

What happened? A 2014/15 full of inconsistency and table yo-yoing, as you can see in a single chart of Nürnberg’s table position during the entire season:

Der Club's 2014-15 season narrative in one chart. (Courtesy of kicker.de)
Der Club’s 2014-15 season narrative in one chart. (Courtesy of kicker.de)

For the curious, Der Club ended the Hinrunde in 9th place and ended the Rückrunde in 9th place, but not after climbing to 6th or falling to 16th at various points. Yo-yo, ho.

The obvious takeaways were that FCN struggled mightily on the road (16th best league record away), winning 4, drawing 2, and losing 11 (!), all while conceding 30 goals – one of the league’s worst tallies on the road. In terms of goals scored and conceded, FCN scored an average-ish amount (10th most), while conceding an above average amount (6th most). Ergo, conceding goals hurt Der Club. However, I don’t know what triggered this problem, defensively – lack of skill? positioning? transition defense? squad turnover / injuries? or bad luck? In sum, given the club’s average-ish scoring output, they need to be playing tighter defense – a formula we’ve seen the likes of FC Köln utilize in their recent return to the top flight.

As for playing style, manager René Weiler constantly tinkered with shape and tactics. In general, Nürnberg played through the flanks when going forward, trying to then work the ball to their fairly dangerous attackers, anchored by the excellent play of leading goal-scorer, Sylvestr, and creative force (9 assists), Schöpf. Typically, FCN lacked the ability to play possession ball, opting instead for a balanced give-and-take with opponents.

So where are we now? Through the ’80s, Nürnberg held the distinction as Germany’s most decorated domestic club with 9 national titles. However, the glory days are generations past. Present reality has meant clinging onto to top flight status and playing hard for the top flight once relegated.

The current squad should be longshot promotion candidates as Sylvestr could emerge as one of Bundesliga 2’s best players, while Schöpf’s evolves into one of its better play makers. However, defense looms as the big question mark, especially with the surprising departure of veteran and fan-favorite, Pinola. In all likelihood, Nürnberg will spending another consequent seasons in the second flight.

2014-15 Trivia

Last season, marked Nürnberg 8th relegation – and 8th return to Bundesliga 2.! – from the top flight, surpassing Armina Bielefeld’s previous record.

Money Matters

Summary: net -100,000 € (500,000 € earned and 600,000 € spent).

Transfers In (600,000 € spent):

  • Rurik Gislason (FC Copenhagen) – 250,000 €
  • Stefan Kutschke (VfL) – 250,000 €
  • Thorsten Kirchbaum (VfB) – 100,000 €
  • Tim Leibold (VfB) – free transfer
  • Kevin Möhwald (Rot-Weiß Erfurt) – free transfer
  • Hanno Behrens (SV Darmstadt) – free transfer
  • Laszlo Sepsi (ASA Tirgu Mures) – free transfer

Transfers Out (500,000 € earned:

  • Antonio Colak (Hoffenheim) – 500,000 €
  • Markus Mendler (Stuttgart Kickers) – free transfer
  • Adrian Nikci (Union Berlin) – free transfer
  • Ondrej Celustka (Antalyaspor) – free transfer
  • Javier Pinola (CA Rosario) – free transfer
  • Tobias Pachonik (Stuttgart Kickers) – free transfer

The Boss

Well, given the recent coaching merry-go-round the last couple seasons, anyone who survives starting mid-season and keeps his job is a success for Der Club at this point. Current coach, René Weiler is a 41 year old Swiss national with prior experience coaching in Switzerland’s Super League. He’s been coaching since 2002. Weiler, perhaps Bundesliga 2’s best looking coach, has a strong 1.59 points-per-match average during his coaching career with 47% wins, 19% draws, and 34% losses.

Der Club's boss, Rene Weiler. Surely, your heart is throbbing?
Der Club’s boss, Rene Weiler. Surely, your heart is throbbing?

Odds to Win League:

  • Bwin = 15/1
  • Betfair = 10/1
  • Sportingbet = 9/1
  • Bet365 = 10/1

Five-Year Record:

  • 2010/11 (Bundesliga): 6th place (47 points, +2 GD).
  • 2011/12 (Bundesliga): 10th place (42 points, -11 GD).
  • 2012/13 (Bundesliga): 10th place (44 points, -4 GD).
  • 2013/14 (Bundesliga): 17th place (26 points, -33 GD).
  • 2014/15 (Bundesliga 2.): 9th place (45, -5 GD).

Questions with a Supporter:

Thanks to 1fcnuk.com founder and author of For Better or Wurst, Jon Goulding, for answering the questions – he’s my go-to source for all things related to Der Club.

  • “Keep an eye out for . . . Hanno Behrens – played a major role in Darmstadt’s promotion last season and then opted to stay in BL2. Could be key in midfield.”
  • “Terrace favorite . . . Javier Pinola, but he was released! He was offered a new contract with a massive pay cut. When he agreed to these terms, the offer was withdrawn to the dismay of the majority of fans. Applications for ‘Terrace Favorite’ are now welcome with striker Guido Burgstaller (complete with tatoos, beard, 150% attitude, and hopefully goals) looking like an early contender.”
  • “Player you’d happily drive to another club . . . Rather than a player, many fans would like to see the back of Martin Bader, the head of Sport and Public Relations, who seems to wield huge power and frequently comes under pressure to resign (when things are not going well on the field, of course).”
  • “Advice you’d give your manager . . . With the managerial record at FCN, it would be best to keep a suitcase packed ready for a quick exit!”
  • “Opposition player you secretly admire . . . Not a player but Bochum (and former FCN) coach Gertjan Verbeeck. Few wanted him to be sacked, despite the impending relegation in 2014, and most at FCN wish him well.”
  • “Opposition player you despise. . . None really. They all want to win, many at all costs, but I can’t despise them for that, although I’ll still call some of them all names under the sun in the heat of the moment!”
  • “Tip you’d give away fans . . . Enjoy your trip to Nürnberg. Hopefully, it will be your last one for awhile.”
  • “Where will you finish . . . Heart says 1st or 2nd. Head says 3rd to 8th.”

Crucial Fixtures Stretch:

Late August and early September looks tricky. Der Club have matches against Bochum, F95, and a derby match against Fürth in consecutive weeks. After a respite (?) against Sandhausen, Nürnberg travels to Kaiserlautern’s den of doom on September 22.

Finally, Nürnberg repeats this sequence in late February and early March during a stretch that will surely determine where the club plays in 2016-17.

Verdict

7th place in Bundesliga 2. Entschuldigun Sie mir, Glubber!

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Travis serves as an editor and regular columnist here. He writes for Howler magazine's website. Born and groomed in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Travis is a college English instructor in Pittsburgh. Coffee, books, and coaching the U8s are his passions. His writing has also appeared in Bloomberg Sports, the Good Man Project, and his former blog, Sportisourstory.tumblr.com, and elsewhere. He tweets at @tptimmons. Heja BVB!