So yesterday FC St. Pauli played an away game at Magdeburg, and it was the 4th win in the 4th game under Fabian Hürzeler, new head coach after Timo Schultz had been fired. Feelings are still hurt, and success is partly healing wounds, but also slightly irritating, since… why should the former co-manager Hürzeler perform so much better without his former boss Timo?
I am still sad that Timo is history. That’s probably because my socialisation with FC St. Pauli was in the beginning of this century with the iconic team of Stanislawski, and Timo was an important part of this team, just like Fabian Boll, Florian Bruns, Schnecke, Ebbers, Meggle. For me, personally, this was the first team I really identified with, and there will never be a team like this. Very few players made it into my heart like these guys. Well, some did, but it will never be the same. This it why it was like a miracle for me, that one of those boys was head coach now. I believed that this was a factor to our identity as a club, and just like we kept Ewald Lienen in times of trouble, I wanted that Timo could stay and prove himself, too.
That said, I twittered back in September 2022, that I believed we’d be delegated to 3rd Liga if we kept Timo. Some of my followers thought that I’d want him to be removed, but I didn’t. I’d rather went down a league than fire Timo, but I saw that there wasn’t enough change in the teams playing to be able to prevail.
In hindsight, we should have fired Timo after losing in Rostock early April 2022. We were 7 points ahead of rank 3 for Winterpause 21/22, and since then most teams showed how easy it was to win against our Mittelfeldraute. After losing in Rostock, we were still 3rd, and everything was very close. But we didn’t change enough to make it any harder to win against us. Remember: we still had Kyereh and Burgstaller at that time, as well as Makienok and Becker (poor Becker now). And although we had these wonderful player, and although we were 7 points ahead of HSV for Winterpause, WE STILL DIDN’T ACHIEVE THIS HISTORIC CHANCE OF ENDING A SEASON AHEAD OF THE VORSTADT! Ranking 5th last season is, well, we are St. Pauli, no problem. But giving away that lead, and letting HSV pass us by? We could have played 1. Bundesliga for a year and watch HSV keep struggling in 2nd, but we didn’t. THIS SUCKS and we’ll not get that chance again any time soon.
So in the new season 22/23, we surely lost a couple of nice players and Bornemann didn’t do a good job to replace them. Saying that it’s all Bornemanns fault though is obviously wrong, though, since he hired all the good players, too. No Borni, no Kyereh. No Borni, no Burgi. And yes, we could all discuss whether Timo would have made these four wins in a row if only he had Afolayan and Mets, but I doubt that will bring us anywhere.
Hürzeler has been around, but I never really looked at him closely before he became head coach. Now, he looks like the opposite of Timo: Timo always wanted to play aggressive, rather win 4:3 than 1:0, play attractive and offensive. Hürzeler says that the most important thing is to not get any goals against us at all, so rather defensive. And the first match in Nürnberg looked like that, a dirty 1:0 with a lot of time wasting and destructive play. I was really worried when we went to see them play Hannover at Millerntor stadium the week after, and I was amazed that it didn’t look that destructive after all. Only now in Magdeburg after going into the lead 2:1 in 88th minute, taking time off the clock was most important again, with Maurides going to the corner… well, that did the trick of course, and criticising a successful tactics is always a bit pointless. But it shows that the change from Timo to Hürzeler, in the end, probably still was the right step. Or do you think that Timo could have been convinced by someone to put more emphasis on defensive stability? I don’t know.
So yes, I am still sad that Timo is gone, because of his history with the club and also his attractive style of football. But I am also still disappointed that he didn’t take the chance for the historic moment to end the season ahead of HSV. And now that I connect this to his dismissal, it’s a bit easier to deal with it. Still won’t heal that quickly. And since head coaches will go away anyways, can we please hire Fabian Boll or Florian Bruns next as head coach? Schnecke is needed with our women’s teams, but of course I’d love to see him coach as well!
PS: Yes, the teams performance right now is astounding, and seeing them against Hannover and Lautern was fantastic. It feels great that 3rd Liga is a bit further away again, 11 points to go for safety. Next up: Kogge versenken!