The winners and losers this season

16. Mai 2011


So there you go: the last match day of the 2010-2011 season has been played, and the 18 Bundesliga teams is divided into two camps – the winners and the losers. Nevertheless, deciding which teams belong to which category is a matter of personal interpretation – and here’s mine.

The biggest winners are, of course, Borussia Dortmund. They won the league and deserved to do so, with their range of young players who should – with the exception of Madrid-bound Nuri Sahin – stay with the side for the foreseeable future.
Second-placed Leverkusen too are clear winners: coming second in the Bundesliga and beating Bayern in the race for the Champions League starting positions is a great showing.
Some of the “smaller” teams are worthy of the winner title, too: Hannover 96, Mainz 05, Nuremberg, Freiburg – all of these teams had an unexpectedly big effect on the league this season and are surprisingly highly placed. I’ll be interested to see how Hannover and Mainz fair on a European level, though.
Other winners are, in my opinion, teams who, although not near the top of the league, aimed to stay in it and managed not to get relegated: look at Kaiserslautern and 1. FC Köln, both of whom stayed up. Kaiserslautern deserve a very special mention, in fact, for keeping their nerve when things got tough and not doing what almost every team did in similar situations – firing their coach. By avoiding chaos, they managed to finish in seventh place, a great result for them.
Another winner is Borussia Mönchengladbach, who looked like they were headed down into the second league. During the winter break, they were languishing at 18, but then the “Colts” (as German football jargon calls them) managed to get going and are now in the play-offs with the possibility of staying put. Nevertheless, a lot is dependent on VfL Bochum’s performance, so it’s too early to say how this will finish.
In terms of individuals, there are some clear winners and losers, too. Mario Gomez, for example, who is a clear winner with 28 goals in one season – and this after the Bayern management almost chased him off with pitchforks claiming that he was cursed with bad luck! Or just look at coach Thomas Tuchel, who turned the Mainz team into an national-quality side and kept the team consistently at fifth place or above. Or Schalke’s world-class Manuel Neuer, who proved again and again that he is the best German goalkeeper around and more than worthy of following Oliver Kahn. And then there’s Marco Reus, Mirko Slomka, Ilkay Gündogan, and plenty more who I could mention but won’t.

Why won’t I? Because the Bundesliga world is not just full of winners, but has losers too, and I want to write about some of them too!
Look at Bayern München, for example, who are losers as soon as they don’t win the league title – I mean, it’s a question of expectations, and everyone expects them to win.
In fact, the real losers of the season are both a good few hundred clicks north of Munich: Eintracht Frankfurt and FC St. Pauli. Of the two, Frankfurt are not only losers, but disappointingly so: they had such a good start to the season and are now going down into the second league – way to manage expectations, boys! Nevertheless, I would have expected better of St. Pauli, too, to be frank. They too did alright in the first half of the season, but the fans started protesting against “commercialisation” and then there were the arguments about coach Stanislawski moving to another team, and the team started to fall apart. St. Pauli just weren’t strong enough to play well under this kind of stress, and so they too are headed down a league. They could have stayed up – the potential was there. Nevertheless, they are dropping with their heads held high.
Other losers are, if you see things my way, the other “big” teams who finished at the bottom end of the league, or just stayed as mediocre as ever – HSV in Hamburg, for example. Wolfsburg, Bremen, Stuttgart and Schalke, too, all had to fight against relegation at points, and all of them got lucky – but all should be playing at a far higher standard.

This makes Schalke a big loser by my calculation: their team was put together to win the league, and didn’t – not even close. They might still win the cup, I suppose, and have been good in the Champions League, but in the process they’ve lost Magath; although he split the squad and the supporters when he was there, they’re lost without him now he’s at Wolfsburg.

A big individual loser this season is Christoph Daum, who lost his aura of invincibility as Frankfurt went down. His career is now as good as over. Michael Ballack, too, is at a dead end: he wanted to really get his teeth into the league at Leverkusen, but injury set him back and it’s now only a matter of time until national coach Joachim Löw pulls the plug on his international ambitions. Wolfsburg’s diva in residence, Diego, is a loser, refusing to go with his team to the decisive match of the season because he wasn’t in the starting line-up. You can’t expect paid-up supporters to put up with that kind of nonsense.

So as you can see, it was a pretty exciting 48th Bundesliga season, and I can hardly wait for the next season (starts 5th August). As ever, the deck will be reshuffled and we’ll have another 10 months until we know who the winners and losers are again.

Results Matchday 34:
Bayern München – VfB Stuttgart 2:1
1899 Hoffenheim – VfL Wolfsburg 1:3
Hannover 96 – 1. FC Nürnberg 3:1
Borussia Dortmund – Eintracht Frankfurt 3:1
Hamburger SV – Borussia Mönchengladbach 1:1
1. FSV Mainz 05 – FC St. Pauli 2:1
1. FC Köln – FC Schalke 04 2:1
SC Freiburg – Bayer Leverkusen 0:1
1. FC Kaiserslautern – Werder Bremen 3:2

1 Borussia Dortmund 75 P
2 Bayer Leverkusen 68 P
3 Bayern München 65 P
4 Hannover 96 60 P
5 1. FSV Mainz 05 58 P
6 1. FC Nürnberg 47 P
7 1. FC Kaiserslautern 46 P
8 Hamburger SV 45 P
9 SC Freiburg 44 P
10 1. FC Köln 44 P
11 1899 Hoffenheim 43 P
12 VfB Stuttgart 42 P
13 Werder Bremen 41 P
14 FC Schalke 04 40 P
15 VfL Wolfsburg 38 P
16 Borussia Mönchengladbach 36 P
17 Eintracht Frankfurt 34 P
18 FC St. Pauli 29 P