Shakespeare’s King Lear is about a king who loses his mind, and the characters around him do nothing to stop him. These days Bundesliga fans can watch a somewhat similar situation emerge at Werder Bremen, where the long serving king Thomas has lost his grip.
The league’s longest serving coach (11 years) has had a tough year so far. In the beginning of the season the club lost its star midfielder, Mesut Özil, and their star defender Naldo has been out for the entire season. Schaaf has throughout the whole season tried to make a brave face, and stated that the situation at some point had to turn around. The board of directors and the fans at Bremen have so far believed the most beloved coach in the Bundesliga.
However, after Friday’s and Saturday’s matched Bremen find themselves in the play off spot of the league, and they have to try to get out of it against form side Leverkusen. A tough ask.
The match against Leverkusen
Very little is pointed towards a Bremen victory in Sunday’s late match. Leverkusen’s away form has been brilliant, Bremen is injury stricken, and hasn’t won a game since their match against Hoffenheim 5 weeks ago. Per Mertesacker has shown poor form in the last few matches, and doesn’t seem to be his usual self. Torsten Frings has done more to insult referees in the previous weeks, then handling the problems that Bremen have in midfield. The one thing Bremen have going for them is Claudio Pizzaro’s return to the side.
Leverkusen have on their side an almost full squad at hand, and have the chance to go 6 points clear of Bayern with only 10 more matches to play. If that doesn’t motivate them, what does?
Let the insults fly
Bremen’s season has been marked by inconsistencies all around. Dominik Schmidt stated that he wanted more money if Bremen wanted to extend his contract, caused Klaus Allofs to rant on about how the players shouldn’t betray their club. Marko Arnautovic has so far this season done nothing to impress Bundesliga pundits, but has caused loads of trouble off the pitch. At one point the Austrian called the club and its leaders “a bunch morons”, but that didn’t cause Allofs or Schaaf to take any action whatsoever. It seems that there are two classes of players at the club, which is unfortunate.
Thomas Schaaf has in the past been a coach that managed to turn difficult characters into team players. He has utterly failed to do that with Marko Arnautovic. As it stands today, the coach seems to have lost the ability to reach his players. Several Bremen players have according to German media reports complained that Schaaf hasn’t had a one on one conversation with them for ages.
Furthermore, Schaaf seems to have lost his cool. While the Bremen coach in the past was known for his calm and rational behavior, he now has turned into a powder keg. This week alone several media reports showed how Schaaf stopped training sessions, and told off players in front of the entire press core gathered at the training session.
Like King Lear, Schaaf has lost all his connections to the outside world it seems. He has lost his mind according to a few members of the German press(read: Bild Zeitung). The situation at Bremen is so dire, that even German late night talk show hosts have started to make fun of it. The longest serving late night entertainer of the country, Harald Schmidt, said recently: “He doesn’t want to make way, and his holding on to his power. He wants to die as a martyr. For many people Libya’s president Gaddafi has turned into the Thomas Schaaf of Northern-Africa.”
By all means not a flattering comparison. However, Klaus Allofs displayed a massive amount of humour when asked by reporters about the comment from Schmidt: “Gaddafi has lodged any complaints about what was said so far.”, the sporting director stated. And maybe, just maybe, this sense of dry humor will make it easier for Werder to get through this crisis. Maybe.
What do you think? Will Werder turn the corner against Leverkusen? Leave a comment below.