October 23, 2017

Eichin’s and Dutt’s puzzle – Building a new Werder side piece by piece

Werder Bremen’s win against their arch rivals HSV was significant in more than one way. First and foremost it saw Werder Bremen win an incredibly tight match against a fellow relegation rival, but it also gave the Green and Whites a six point cushion down to the drop zone, allowing peace and calm to prevail for the immediate future . The club’s leadership have once again set out to prove to the rest of the world that stoically following and believing in a concept breeds success, rather than making rash decision based on the emotions from the last couple of match days.

So far the Werder Bremen fans have been backing their club, despite a number of dreadful losses, like the 7-0 home defeat to Bayern München or the inept 3-1 defeat away to Augsburg. Robin Dutt and the rest of the sporting leadership have continuously praised the fans calm and understanding nature which has seen Werder receiving great support despite a number of horrific displays.

Make or break time

Werder have been able to stabilise their performances on the pitch over the last 3 matches, taking five points against Gladbach, Frankfurt and Hamburg. The three upcoming matches against Nürnberg, Stuttgart and Freiburg are crucial, and they could ultimately decide if Werder are going to stay in the relegation battle for the rest of the season or if they can take a step out of it and be amongst the teams fighting for a mid-table finish.

Even if things are going Werder’s way during those crucially couple of weeks, there is little doubt that the current season has highlighted a few areas at the club in dire need of improvement. Thomas Eichin and Dutt have been steering the ship for 23 match days, but they are still being held hostage by a few factors which were already in place before their arrival.

It’s no secret that Werder Bremen are currently trying to slim their wage bill, meaning that Eichin’s hands are tied on the transfer market. Klaus Allofs was known to make smart signings on the cheap and Werder’s new sporting director now has to do the same thing. Furthermore, the new players shouldn’t earn too much money either. Not an easy position to be in by any means.

Mixed bag

It takes time to find one’s way as a sporting director and coach duo, and the signings made during the first two transfer windows have reflected Dutt’s and Eichin’s need to find their way. Cedrick Makiadi was the player Dutt wanted to sign at the start of the season, but he hasn’t shown to be the improvement in holding midfield which Werder were looking for. Nils Petersen’s loan deal was made permanent after last season and free agent Franco Di Santo was brought in to give Werder a bit of extra fire power up front, but neither player has yet provided Werder anything special in attack . Former Cottbus and Bayern player Petersen is currently Werder’s top scorer, with a measly five goals from 18 matches, while Di Santo is stuck on one goal.

On the other hand it is fair to say that Luca Caldirola and Santiago Garcia have proven to be improvements compared to the players whom they replaced in Werder’s back four. Winter signing Ludovic Obraniak has shown flashes of what he can do in the Bundesliga, providing Werder with more creativity in attack.

Little to show for big money signings

The steps taken by Werder in the last couple of transfer windows have to be viewed in regards of the changing wage structure at the club. Some of the players still at the club are on relatively high wages(by Werder’s current standards) and have yet to perform. Both Eljaro Elia and Mehmet Ekici draw high salaries, but are currently out in the cold. Elia has been sitting on the bench for the last three matches and has already stated that he could imagine leaving Werder in the next transfer window.

The case of Mehmet Ekici is a more peculiar one. After a great season at Nürnberg the young Turk arrived at Werder with high hopes, but has struggled to find is way ever since. Ekici is currently not allowed to speak to the press according to Weser Kurier and is rumoured to leave in the next transfer window. There was considerable interest from a number of Turkish clubs during the winter transfer window, but not a single club was willing to meet Werder’s demands.

Getting rid of those two players during the next transfer window could be the key in ensuring that Thomas Eichin’s hands are free to make astute signings which could improve Werder’s overall quality on the pitch ahead of next season.

Hunt for Aaron coming to an end

One of the players who is still living off a deal made during Werder’s days as a Champions League club is Aaron Hunt. However, the player who has been labelled as Thomas Schaaf’s favourite pupil has proven to be amongst the Green and Whites most valuable assets so far this season. His expiring contract has given many a Werder sleepless nights, due to his importance to the side.

Hunt himself has flirted with a move abroad, stating that he would like to play Europa League or Champions League football in the near future. The decision he faces is simple, but a difficult one at that: Does the midfielder want to become a one club man and a legend at the Weserstadion, or does he want to join a side where he can excel and display his capabilities at a higher level?

Both the club and the player himself have confirmed that a decision on the matter is going to be reached in the next few weeks. Hunt’s future is probably going to be determined by the end of the month.

Looking to the future

Whether or not Hunt is going to play at Werder next season is going to have a huge impact on Thomas Eichin’s actions during the next transfer window. Both Aleksandar Ignjovski’s and Philipp Bargfrede’s contracts are expiring as well. Bargfrede seems likely to stay at the moment, but the Serbian’s future at the club is up in the air at the moment. Werder’s first choice goalie at the start of the season Sebastian Mielitz is likely to leave the club at the end of the season on a free transfer, leaving Werder in need of a new goalkeeper.

Eichin has already made strides signing new players ahead of next season if German media reports are to be believed. Werder have already signed St. Pauli’s attacking midfielder Fin Bartels and Rayo Vallecano’s centre back Alejandro Gálvez has supposedly signed a deal with the Green and Whites as well. Adding a new goal keeper and two or three outfield players in positions in need of strengthening would go far in solidifying the squad, while giving Werder the chance to leave the relegation battle behind next season.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 30-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 and on the @AufstiegPod.

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