Eintracht Frankfurt have signed a new head coach to replace Armin Veh. From now on Niko Kovac, 44, will be the man at the side-line together with his brother, Robert Kovac, as assistant coach. The brothers were born in Berlin, and Niko played 241 matches for Hertha BSC Berlin, Hamburger SV, Bayer Leverkusen and FC Bayern München. Eintracht Frankfurt is in danger to be relegated after a disastrous sequence of losses, as Die Adler are 16th in the Bundesliga table, sliding downward as they haven’t won in their last seven matches.
Eintracht Frankfurt – a solid club but….
Traditionally Eintracht Frankfurt belongs to the clubs in the German Bundesliga that have, from an economic point of view, a solid leadership. Heribert Bruchhagen is the person that keeps the club out of any financial danger. Frankfurt did work rationally in the last years and was even able to reach the Europa League 2013/14. Only once were they relegated, when Christoph Daum succeeded Michael Skibbe in 2011. The most recent success was the round of 32 of the Europa League 2013/14 – Frankfurt played against FC Porto and failed because of one away goal (2:2 in Porto / 3:3 in Frankfurt).
After that success fans, experts and officials thought about improvement. Eintracht Frankfurt, with a stadium capacity of 51.500, could reach more than place midtable mediocrity in the Bundesliga. The potential was seen to become, if not a Champions League side, one of the possible Europa League-aspirants regularly coming out of Germany.
Armin Veh’s first and second time in Frankfurt
Veh declared in 2014 not to prolong his contract. He gave explanations that he was not able to see possibilities to improve. Under Bruchhagen, experts were sure, Eintracht Frankfurt would never have tried financial risks with expensive players. The following era of Thomas Schaaf in charge on the sidelines lasted but one year and Veh came back. There were rumours about expanding the stadium to gain more financial possibilities.
What went wrong?
Beginning the new season under Veh, at Match Day 4 Frankfurt had 7 points, 12 goals and was 4th in the Bundesliga, without the still-injured Alex Meier, their iconic goal-scorer. Many fans hoped that their club could compete again for a Europa League berth. But after that 2-1-1 start, Eintracht won but two more matches in the “Hinrunde, ” even with Meier returning. The possible improvement turned into a certain degradation. Although the squad is filled with good Bundesliga players, not one of them seemed to perform at the top of their level.
Niko Kovac – the saviour?
Croatian Kovac knows the Bundesliga. He speaks – due to his Berlin birthplace – perfect German. He trained RB Salzburg, the Under 21 team of Croatia, and was coach of the Croatian national team in Brazil 2014 where they finished group A third against Brazil, Mexico and Cameroon. Overall, he had a 5-0-0 mark with the Croatian U-21s, and was 10-5-4 with the senior side, with a total positive goal differential of +36 in 24 matches with the two squads. Though not having coached a bigger club yet, Kovac can be seen as one of the talents in the guild of coaches in Europe
Of course the “project-work” of a national coach differs from the daily routine of a club coach, but one would think, admittedly on the basis of a rather small sample, that Frankfurt should score goals now under Kovac. After their initial four game stretch, the club has only scored a paltry 21 more in their following 21 Bundesliga matches while conceding 34, hardly a recipe for success. Assistant coach Robert Kovac will bring the defensive perspective of a center back who had a lengthy career in Germany also, along with playing Serie A football at Juventus.
Will relegation be avoided?
Hopefully, yes! Eintracht Frankfurt recently celebrated their 117th birthday and the club is still one of the institutions in Germany. No one in Europe will ever forget the incredible and impressive fan-march in Bordeaux 2013. With their fans’ support, “die Eintracht” needs to stay in the Bundesliga. It would be a big loss for German football. Kovac first of all has to do one thing – he has to change something. It does not matter what he changes, he just have to do things differently than his predecessor, and improved goal-scoring would seem to be something he would be able to teach.
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