Bremen must have a good look at themselves after Bundesliga survival

Werder Bremen somehow avoided Bundesliga relegation and must now make a thorough assessment of what all went wrong in a season they had started with European ambitions.


By John Bagratuni,  Werder Bremen have no illusions that major change is needed after they barely survived one of their worst seasons in club history.
A 2-2 draw at tiny Heidenheim on Monday assured the four-time champions and former European Cup Winners' Cup champs of staying in the Bundesliga, a lucky feat at the end of a season they had started with completely different ambitions.
"A club that wants to get into Europe and then fights for survival against small town club Heidenheim has done many things wrong," the local Weser Kurier said in an editorial Tuesday.
"No one at Werder Bremen should get the idea to celebrate staying in the top flight as a success. The sickness of the past months is not suitable for heroic stories."
Bremen survived despite failing to beat Heidenheim in two play-off games, superior only on away goals as a 2-2 on Monday was good enough for them after a dour 0-0 at home on Thursday.
And Bremen only got into the play-off as the third-last Bundesliga side because Fortuna Dusseldorf failed to beat Augsburg in the penultimate round and then lost at Union Berlin.
"We were dead so many times, and dead again after the first leg. But we fought our way out of it. We were pronounced dead, our character questioned - we can put all this to rest now," coach Florian Kohfeldt said.
"Shitty season, good ending - and everything else we will talk over from now on."
Discussions on the clubs future direction are indeed needed as Bremen officials had initially hoped for another bright season after years in the lowland when they finished the previous campaign just outside the European berths in eighth place.
But their best player, forward Max Kruse, left in summer, a loss the team could never compensate. A long-term injury of new forward Niclas Fuellkrug did also not help their cause as they won a mere two of their 17 home games and garnered just 31 points in the league.
"At Werder, everyone is well advised not to sweep up their failures under the rug," the Sueddeutsche Zeitung said.
Major changes are not expected though as sports director Frank Baumann and chairman Marco Bode, both former Werder players, are unlikely to drop Kohfeldt after sticking with him through the season.
Kohfeldt, 37, has left his future open, with talks set for later in the week in which he said "we would about what is best for Werder."
Money is also a factor as Bremen don't have much of it, face losses from the coronavirus pandemic, and have to splash out 11 million euros (12.4 million dollars) because survival meant that loan players Oemer Toprak and Leonardo Bittencourt get permanent contracts.
Many injuries, bad signings and a questionable fitness level will be other topics at the Northern Germans to get Bremen ready for the next season with league record Bundesliga matches 1,901 to 1,934 in club history.
No longer present however will be 41-year-old striker Claudio Pizarro who ended his career after more than two decades and five terms at the club without seeing any playing time on Monday.
"I was with him after the game and apologized that I could not field him in his last game. Unfortunately the situation just wasn't there," Kohfeldt said.
"I can't take a deeper bow to Claudio Pizarro and what he did for Werder Bremen and the Bundesliga. And I'm very happy that we were able to end this chapter in the Bundesliga."


Tuesday, July 7th 2020
By John Bagratuni,

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