“Our patience won’t last forever” – Impressions from a weekend in Bremen

If you walked around the city of Bremen this Saturday you saw many Werder fans exchange smiles mixed with an expression of horror on their faces. The Weserstadion hasn’t been the fortress it once used to be. So far this season the Green and Whites have only managed to take six points from their home matches with their only win at home coming on match day 2 against a Borussia Mönchengladbach side in disarray.

Despite the somewhat critical situation Viktor Skripnik and his team are currently facing the fans have remained steadfastly behind their team, creating a blistering atmosphere in the Weserstadion whenever the team has a home match. And once again, the best thing about being in the stadium was the Ostkurve. However, before the match started and as the team was running onto the pitch the fans rolled out a banner reading: Our patience won’t last forever.

Another draw at home against a direct rival in the fight against relegation is certainly not going to reassure the fans that their side is currently reaching its full potential. Once again Werder gave away two needless goals and once again it was Claudio Pizarro who rescued them a point by a late goal. The fact that so much of the hopes are pinned onto a 37-year-old player who is nearing the end of his career says a lot.

The youngsters that were promised to come through when the club started to reform its youth system a while ago are either on loan at lower league clubs or sitting on the bench. Makeshift and cheap solutions is what Thomas Eichin and parting sporting director Rouven Schröder had to pull out of the hat time and time again, as the youngsters in the squad weren’t cutting it and the coffers of the club have been empty ever since Werder said farewell to the Champions League.

“It’s a team in transition” is the sentence most commonly rolled out by the Werder fans who are still standing behind Skripnik. Fair enough one might say, but how many years can a team be in transition, said the man sitting next to me in the stands. He had a fair point, as the officials have used that line for several years now, in fact since the club crashed out of Europe too many seasons ago.

The last two years under Thomas Schaaf represented a steady decline, which was continued under Robin Dutt’s horrid time in charge of the team. Skripnik should be given credit for the fact that he managed to turn the awful trend around and that the team played some of its best football in years at the start of 2015.

However, now that the shit is continuously hitting the Werder fan, some of the fans have started to doubt that the Ukrainian Beckham (as he was once known) is still the right man for the job. At the start Skripnik’s simple tactics and the injection of pure joy made the Green and Whites overperform, almost reaching the Europa League at the end of the season. Now that the team is struggling in matches Skripnik fails to react to what is happening on the pitch, according to his critics, who state that the coach’s sometimes peculiar substitutions have done more harm than good over the course of the season.

Wherever one stands in the debate concerning the coach, there is little doubt that the club needed more than two points from their three matches against direct rivals Darmstadt, Ingolstadt and Hoffenheim. Those matches at the start of the Rückrunde were going to be the key to determine where Werder’s season was going. Now that the answers are in, most fans are starting to wake up in the middle of the night more frequently.

The team has now only won one of their last 11 matches, there hasn’t been a clean sheet in 25 matches and 7 points from 12 home matches has seen Werder perform worse in the table than they ever had in any other Bundesliga season. Something needs to change and it needs to happen next week when the team faces Leverkusen away from home Wenesday and host Hannover 96 next Saturday. The game against the side from Lower Saxony is going to be another key match for Skripnik’s side. If the team doesn’t pull off a win, he might have to leave his position.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 33-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.