October 24, 2017

Viktor Skripnik: Changing Fortunes in Bremen?

Viktor Skripnik couldn’t have asked for a better start at his new job at Bremen. 2-1 against Mainz away, after being down 1-0, was followed up by a 2-0 victory against Stuttgart at home showed that the new coach already had created a moral strength in the dressing room that wasn’t there when Robin Dutt was the coach.

The win against Mainz was the first victory this season for Bremen who’s been at the bottom of the Bundesliga table since the start of the season. Now with a new coach and newly acquired confidence there is a belief that they could actually turn things around, although many fingers have been pointed to how weak the team actually is because there is a lack of big stars.

”We shouldn’t be afraid to lose, but have the courage to win” is the motto of coach Skripnik, another coach who was working at the youth teams to be promoted to the first team. It’s the same thing that Mainz tried successfully with Thomas Tuchel, Schalke with Jens Keller, Stuttgart with the newly appointed assistant coach of Germany Thomas Schneider (not as successful) and by rivals Hamburg with Josef Zinnbauer (still too early to say where it’s going).

For the clubs it makes sense to promote a coach from their own ranks. The cost will be much less than hiring a new coach. They will get a coach who already knows the clubs and the players, which makes it easier for them to adapt and especially it shows that they actually believe in their own coaches. After Dutt was fired the newly appointed head of the board Marco Bode told German TV show Aktuelles Sportstudio that the most vital thing for Werder was to avoid making an expensive mistake given their current situation.

Bremen could have made the most logical choice by hiring a more experienced coach at this level. No one would have criticised the hiring of a coach with the experience of Huub Stevens or a Bruno Labbadia who has been working with big clubs like Hamburg and Stuttgart before.

Still Bremen picked Skripnik and no one criticised the board for their decision. They got a coach who was a player at the club for eight years, being a part of the Thomas Schaaf team that won the double in 2004 Skripnik was never to be forgotten by the fans nor the club. The Ukrainian himself was likened to his former coach in several news articles and the man who was nicknamed “The Beckham of Ukraine” didn’t seem to mind the comparison, stating that “Schaaf has taught me more about football than any other coach” and that he looked “like Thomas Schaaf, just without the moustache”.

Of course the fans liked the appointment, because they remembered what Skripnik had done a club as player. Skripnik was a part of the team that saved Bremen from relegation in 1999 and then turned them into Bundesliga winners in just five years. That and also having living legend Thorsten Frings as the assistant coach helped convince the fans that they were right for this task.

And winning in his first game against Mainz just confirmed that Bremen had made the right choice of appointing Skripnik as the coach of the first team. It wasn’t a perfect game and it took a rather huge chunk of luck to get those three points – but they did it and that was the most important thing in the Bremen camp.

The following game against Stuttgart at Weserstadion in Bremen on Saturday was Skripnik’s first game at home as a coach and he knew how important a win would be, not just for the fans but for the team. ”It motivates us, that we would pass Stuttgart in the table if we win against them”, Skripnik said at the press conference before the game and also added that he was impressed by the Stuttgart offence that could cause his team trouble.

Bremen won 2-0. Stuttgart only had one shot on target and Skripnik proved that he had done his job as a coach, preparing his team perfectly for a the important game as one of the main rivals in the bottom of the table. After the match the players praised their coach for giving them the right instructions for the match as well as “injecting them with the Werder genome” according to Zlatko Junuzovic.

For the first in since September Bremen aren’t occupying one of the relegation spots, creating a feeling among the fans that they actually could preventing the fate of being relegated. Just by doing that Skripnik has earned the nickname Victory Skripnik and made a huge difference in Bremen.

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