Bottom of the Bundesliga, six points from automatic safety, without a league win since September and eliminated from the German Cup by second-division Hamburg – something had to give in Nuremberg.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, after a meeting lasting one hour on Monday night, sporting director Andreas Bornemann, who was also a member of the board, was relieved of his duties. Several hours later, head coach Michael Köllner (pictured above) followed him out the door of the Max-Morlock-Stadion.
Club legend Marek Mintal and assistant coach Boris Schommers are to take over on an interim basis until a permanent appointment is found.
“The disappointing performance away at Hamburg in the cup hit us particularly hard,” read a club statement. “That game, plus the 15 games without a win in the league, has made it clear that we need to take a close look at the current situation at the club.”
Köllner, who took charge of Nuremberg in March 2017 and led the “Glubb” to their eighth promotion to the Bundesliga, had never coached in Germany’s top flight before and has overseen only two victories – a 2-0 win over Hannover and a 3-0 win over fellow promoted side Fortuna Düsseldorf.
They even needed penalties to scrape past third-division Hansa Rostock in the cup while humiliations away at Borussia Dortmund (7-0), RB Leipzig (6-0) and Schalke (5-2) only emphasized the gulf in class between Germany’s top teams and a Nuremberg side that was promoted from a historically weak second division.
“Since the club’s finances simply didn’t allow it, Nuremberg opted not to make big changes to the squad in the summer and ended up fielding a decent second division team in the Bundesliga,” wrote Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung this weekend after the Franconians’ latest defeat, a 2-0 reverse away at Hannover.
Hannover, who began that game behind Nuremberg, are equally as poor. But in Nicolai Müller, on loan from Eintracht Frankfurt, they do have a Bundesliga striker who scored them two crucial goals.
On the other hand, only Fortuna Düsseldorf’s squad is worth less than Nuremberg’s. Last season’s top scorer Hanno Behrens has only found the net three times this season, while the club also lost key man Kevin Möhwald to Werder Bremen in the summer. The arrival of former HSV goalkeeper Christian Mathenia at least added a pinch of Bundesliga experience but even he hasn’t been able to prevent the side shipping 46 goals – only VfB Stuttgart have conceded more.
“The economic and sporting consolidation of the club comes before everything else,” read the club statement on the dismissal of sporting director Bornemann, who had long defended coach Köllner. “But recent events and results have put our sporting ambitions in grave danger.”
A curious thing to say given that the “Glubb,” German champions in 1968, have seemed resigned to going straight back down right from the start.
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