Armin Veh sacked – The shortcomings of a badly planned return

On Sunday evening Heribert Bruchhagen had to something that he had only done once before in his 13 year long tenure at the club. The head of the Eintracht board had to fire his friend and confidant Armin Veh as the head coach of the Eagles (the only coach Bruchhagen had fired until Sunday was Michael Skibbe back in the 2010/11 season). Seven games without a win, a fan base turning on the coach and Veh veering between trying to play defensive football before tossing his new idea into the garbage and returning to a more attacking style of play indicated that a changed was necessary.

The fact of the matter remains that Veh never has been the sort of coach who does well under the immense pressure in the fight against relegation. Last season he decided to leave Stuttgart when his return to that club didn’t get off to a good start. Now the 55-year-old hadn’t managed to give his players the directions they needed to get out of the mess they had been stuck in for some time. Bruchhagen told the German press after Veh had been fired that he could spot “the relief within Armin”.

Veh had in the last weeks was grumpy when he was questioned about the Eintracht’s fans dismay with the team’s performance over the last few weeks. The “Armin Geh”(Leave Armin) banner and the constant stream of fans shouting for the coach dismissal had grown over the last couple of weeks, but instead of asking the fans for patience and/or forgiveness for the team’s weak performances Veh asked the spectators to stay home if they didn’t like what was on offer at the Commerzbank Arena.

Without Alex Meier Eintracht have been lacking punch in their attacking department and the fact of the matter remains that Veh didn’t manage to figure out any sort of solutions to that problem over the course of 25 matches this season. Even worse, Veh publicly criticised Haris Seferovic, branding him as egocentric, which (even if true) can’t have helped the player or the team in the currently rather dire situation.

Many are probably asking themselves if the Eintracht officials shot themselves in the foot when they managed to get rid of Thomas Schaaf in an unceremonious fashion. The former Werder coach had taken the team to a rather respectable 9th places finish last season, but many members of the board and advisory board were not happy with the results the coach was producing. Tired of the back chatter the coach decided to leave, because he wasn’t feeling appreciated for the work he was producing.

Armin Veh was specifically brought in to improve the results at the club. After leaving Eintracht the first time around the Augsburg native had stated that he was more ambitious and that he was tired of “congratulating the other coach for the win”. Eintracht fans hadn’t forgotten these comments and they may also have been a reason for why the supporters turned so quickly on Veh.

Besides Kevin Trapp and Takashi Inui there weren’t any significant personnel losses over the summer and Bruno Hübner did his best to provide useful players for his new coach. When the Eagles disappointed during the first half of the season Hübner did a lot of shopping for Veh bringing in Huzsti, Fabian, Ayhan, Ben-Hatira and Reagäsel.

The fact of the matter remains that the squad at hand at best was destined for a mid-table finish. Veh’s ambition of building towards a brighter future wasn’t backed up by any significant vision coming from the coach and when things turned out wrong, Veh simply didn’t have any answers and seemed more and more unprepared for what was facing his team.

At the end of the day the 55-year-old remains a coach for the sunny times who might at most be able to stick around for 2-3 seasons, but many times during his coaching career he simply failed to find answers when he needed to find them the most. Veh has returned to former clubs on three occasions during his career – all returns ended less than 1 year after he had been re-hired.

Heribert Bruchhagen told the press on Sunday: “We hope that a coaching change can satisfy our surroundings and create an improvement in performance.”

Markus Gisdol was contacted by the club, but turned the offer down according to Süddeutsche Zeitung. The names mentioned within the German press ranged from Mirko Slomka, Niko Kovac, Jos Luhukay, Kosta Runjaic and Tayfun Korkut. In the end the club was able to present Kovac as their new coach. The 44-year-old Croat has some experience as an assistant from Red Bull Salzburg and as a head coach for Croatia’s U21 and senior side.

Additionally it turns out that the club is struggling to fill Heribert Bruchhagen’s position at the top of the club as well. Both Christoph Metzelder and former Bayern sporting director Christian Nerlinger have already turned down the club. As things stand the Eagles are going toward a very uncertain future and now the club is hoping for a return to more stability with Kovac at the head.

Photo by TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images

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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.