Category Archives: 1.FC Kaiserslautern

Betze News – 1.FC Kaiserslautern News Update

The lovely folks at Kaiserslautern have released their latest news update and we are pleased to be able to share it with you. You can either view it here on Bundesliga Lounge or download via PDF. Right click here to download: Betze News 11 – Bochum

 

 

Betze News – Kaiserslautern News in English

The Bundesliga Lounge is pleased to bring you the latest English News from the 1.FC Kaiserslautern. The Betze News is the club’s English section of the official club magazine and is available to download in PDF form.

Betze News – 07 – 2012/13

(PC: Right click and ‘Save As’or Mac: CTRL+Click & ‘Save Link As’)

For other news concerning Kaiserslautern go to http://www.fck.de/en/home-page_.html

 

Betze News – Latest Kaiserslautern News

Thanks to the media department at Kaiserslautern! We will now be bringing you each edition of Betze News on the Bundesliga Lounge. The Betze News is the club’s English section of the official club magazine and is available to download in PDF form.

Kaiserslautern -Betze News – 06 – 2012/13

(PC: Right click and ‘Save As’or Mac: CTRL+Click & ‘Save Link As’)

For other news concerning Kaiserslautern go to http://www.fck.de/en/home-page_.html

All change at Kaiserslautern

With Krasimir Balakov replacing Marco Kurz as coach of Kaiserslautern, Terry Duffelen asks why the Red Devils have made a change with such a short time remaining in the season. 

At the risk of stating the obvious, sixteen games without a win can take its toll on a team’s confidence and in any league a coach is unlikely to survive such a dismal run, even if he has signed a new contract only a few months earlier. Such was the fate of Marco Kurz who waved goodbye to his Kaiserslautern team less than a season after guiding them to seventh in the final Bundesliga table.

While defensively solid, ‘Lautern’s problems were a lack of pace and invention when moving the ball forward. Striker Srjdan Lakic and Ivo Ilicevic left in 2011 and no one was able to effectively replace them. Only Christian Tiffert could be regarded as a player of genuine quality in an attacking sense. The Red Devils are a frugal club and new players need to be  developed fairly rapidly and on the cheap. This is not a club that does not like to write too many cheques.

Clearly the results were not good enough and Kurz was unable to regenerate his squad in the way that Dieter Hecking has done at Nürnberg when Mehmet Ekici and Ilkay Gundogan moved on. This must be one of the reasons why Kurz was dismissed.

The tragedy is that the erstwhile trainer was given the backing of Sporting Director Stefan Kuntz only last year when his contract was extended. While few people expected Kaiserslautern to emulate their achievements of last season, fewer still imagined that they would be rock bottom of the table. Usually when a coach is dispensed with this close to the end of the season there is a belief that someone can do a better job for the remaining fixtures and generate a bounce of sufficient height to lift them out of danger.

But Kaiserslautern have looked truly grim and you feel it would take a miracle for them to avoid relegation, no matter who took the job. So the question is why dispense with a coach with a proven track record in the second division at a time when he is likely to be needed next season? Why not simply stick with the coach that go you promoted in the first place and hope for the best while planning for the worst?

You have to wonder if Kaiserslautern’s need to stay in the first division is so great that relegation is simply not an option. Perhaps the club’s finances depend on them retaining top flight status. If that is the case then replacing Kurz would be a last throw of the dice. One option available to them was to activate the bat signal and call for a super hero to rescue them in the short term.  That way the club the chance to take stock in the summer before making a longer term choice? The appointment of Krasimir Balakov however,  suggests that the club is thinking of the longer term.

The former Bulgarian international midfielder is one of the heroes of the 1994 World Cup team that reached the semi-final of that tournament. He made 236 appearances for Stuttgart from 1995 to 2003 and started his coaching career at the old Neckarstadion, as an assistant to Matthias Sammer and Felix Magath. Having taking head coach jobs for Grasshopper,  St Gallen and Chernomorets Burgas he arrived in Croatia to manage Hadjuk Split in 2011 where he won twelve of his twenty three matches in charge.  He was linked with the job at Hertha BSC, as a replacement for Michael Skibbe  but the Berlin club chose to appoint Otto Rehhagel instead.

While Balakov’s appointment sounds OK for the future it offers few guarantees in the short term. Perhaps the truth is that Kurz had lost the confidence of the club and even the players. It may be that they arrived at the conclusion that for as long at Marco Kurz remains in charge, Kaiserlautern are going nowhere except down.

From that perspective the decision to sack Kurz makes sense and Balakov seems a reasonable replacement. Kaiserslautern face, fellow relegation candidates Freiburg, Hamburg and Hoffenheim in their next three fixtures. If (and it’s a big ‘if’) they can glean six or seven points from these games then the situation will not look anything like as bleak.

 

The Sound of One Hand Hitting Another

Most would consider that a positive sound, as in the sound of clapping at something pleasing to the eyes or ears. Now, we were recently made aware that the noise of flesh striking flesh means something entirely different to Bayern Munich fans bored at a match, but that’s not where this is going (or is it?) but let’s focus instead on the less embarrassing connotations. Much like its pessimistic cousin the audible “Boo” immediately suggests immense displeasure at whatever a spectator is witnessing, clapping brings with it a feeling of acceptance, whether begrudgingly polite or enthusiastic, along with a sense that whatever has just transpired was something good to behold. In football, it can be derived from such a simple thing as an outlet pass, or it can be the outward expression of emotions and events wrapped up in so many other complex matters taking place off the pitch. In any analysis, clapping in football is surrounded by that warm, fuzzy feeling we still get when fresh baked cookies are about to be served.

So, did you hear clapping when Kaiserslautern extended the contract of trainer Marco Kurz, or where you too busy munching on those chocolate chips?

If you didn’t, most likely it was because the announcement was made almost as an aside during a week when most football observers were still stuck in transition from following the final group play matches of Euro 2012 qualification to the weekend’s league games. Or possibly, as 1.FCK do not often find themselves headlining the news when there’s so much to discuss about how incredibly awesome Bayern Munich is or how Borussia Dortmund are faring thus far following last season’s glorious run, events at the Fritz Walter Stadion are just out of earshot. Jon and Terry highlighted Kurz receiving an extension to his contract on the Bundesliga Show, and while they were not heard clapping–which might not come across very well on podcasts anyway–you could certainly hear the positive tones in their voices when discussing this decision by Die roten Tuefel. It would seem incredibly odd, though, to suggest applause at the move to keep Kurz at the Betzenberg even longer, considering he has managed Kaiserslautern into the relegation mixer thus far this Bundesliga campaign.

After all, when their club is looking up the table and sees so many more clubs above them than below them, this is the moment when supporters start calling for the manager’s head, right? And why should fans of other Bundesliga clubs care enough about this to even give 1.FCK a perfunctory clap of approval?

In a league where club management demonstrates a lack of fear over throwing the baby out with the bath water before the temperature in the tub is even cool when it comes to Bundesliga trainers, this decision should be applauded both for the simple and the complex issues it represents. At the most basic level, giving Kurz a longer contract indicates something more substantial than the oft-heard “vote of confidence” from a club’s board that precedes a sacking once a side’s form does not improve. While the Red Devils are not where they want to be on the table for now, Kurz has been shown that the club does truly believe he will manage them away from a relegation spot come season’s end, and he is being provided additional time–calculated in euros rather than in empty words–to see out his vision for Kaiserslautern.

Further, make no mistake that extending Kurz for an additional year could also be considered a hollow gesture from chairperson Stefan Kuntz to spur on a bit of confidence for the team. Kuntz is acutely aware ‘Lautern are not an organisation that can be casual with commitments of its finances, either on player wages or coaches’ salaries. This season’s squad reflects that harsh reality, with the offseason losses of important players such as Ivo Iličević and Srdjan Lakic to bigger sides, as well as an inability to make permanent signings of lads like Jan Morávek and Erwin Hoffer, who played significant minutes for 1.FCK on their way to finishing 7th in the 2010/11 campaign. Quite simply, this is not the Kaiserslautern of the 1990s that could win a 1.Bundesliga title, get relegated, then fund its way back to an unprecedented double by winning the 2nd division one year and claiming the top flight the following year.

Rather, this is a Kaiserslautern that nearly went bust at the close of the past decade, narrowly escaped relegation to the hinterlands of Germany’s third division, and are still recovering from those lows.

From the more complicated view, rewarding Kurtz now despite his club’s slow start to the season serves as a reminder that during this time in top European football, when even the slightest poor run of form elicits the baying for blood from impatient, gloryhunting fans–apologies if you qualify, but doubt you are if you’re reading this anyway–and swift sackings by club boards, there still exists such a concept as rational patience. The established study of managerial terminations specific to the Dutch leagues from 1986-2004 demonstrated there was little change in a club’s fortunes when firing a manager during the season, and quite often his successor compiled a similar record of misery. Also, the only positive gain for a club happened during the first three matches of the new trainer’s reign, thus quantifying the idea of a “new manager bounce.” Now, within that study, effects specific to Bundesliga were analysed as well using 2000/01 season data, with the only difference being the German league sees more forced resignations from its club trainers rather than outright terminations.

Other than this, the data indicated Bundesliga clubs performed roughly the same as their Dutch counterparts, suggesting in-season managerial upheaval in the German top flight held true to the Shakespearean quote on tales told by idiots. Thus what Kuntz and Kaiserslautern’s board have recognised is that the expectant knee-jerk response–to publicly bemoan the club’s position and place Kurz on notice he is managing on borrowed time–would likely increase their short-term success by only a couple matches and posturing for an immediate future without Kurz in charge could possibly do more damage to the club’s chances should they be unable to avoid the drop at season’s end. Kurz has been with the club during most recent lower league days, managed them to promotion, and could be well placed to repeat the feat should 2011/12 be less than optimal. Perhaps the board also acknowledges with this extension that Kurz has been given a less talented bunch of apples in this season’s Bundesliga basket to bake his apple pie, and he should be afforded a longer period to be the head chef should financial fortunes improve later for the club to buy higher quality ingredients at the transfer shop the next go round.

What this also speaks to is the clear division between the big and the small in Bundesliga. Finding themselves also at the wrong end of the table early in the season, Hamburg SV chose the predictable action in sacking Michael Oenning. While there was a time of uncertainty as caretaker boss Rodolfo Cardoso was denied a chance to prolong his tenure without the necessary licensing and Sporting Director Frank Arnesen even called his own name were the club able to find a suitable replacement soon, the dinosaur of the league was able to shower FC Basle with enough money to part with their promising young manager Thorsten Fink. Hamburg look to have settled their form woes through the usual path, as this is a club expected to compete regularly for Bundesliga titles and play in Europe rather than in relegation scraps. The northern club is a massive one with the financial base to recruit top coaches and top talent, and legions of Rothosen supporters demand the club’s board utilise these resources to fulfill aspirations of trophy-laden seasons.

They have the ability to buy a brown sack for Oenning while picking up new clothes for another emperor simultaneously while 1.FC Kaiserslautern pull out a needle and thread with Kurz to stitch up their 2011/12 campaign.

How about a round of applause then, for 1.FCK for making a sensible decision? When the next club in crisis emerges this season–which will inevitably occur–perhaps that club’s board will look upon what is happening on the Betzenberg and be slower to draw their axes. Not every season ends in glory, no campaign should be looked upon as a zero-sum game, and patience is a virtue to be admired rather than scorned these days. Otherwise, you might find yourself arrested for having sex in the stands of a match you’ve lost patience for watching.