Posts Tagged ‘Bayer Leverkusen’

Portsmouth. Darlington. Any club ever taken over by Peter Ridsdale.

The above are just three of numerous examples of how poor management at the highest level, and investors looking to make cash, have ruined clubs across English football.

To prevent cases like that of Portsmouth or Darlington happening, to ensure football clubs are not simply a means for making money, and a failure to do so means flirting with extinction, English football would do well to look at the German 50+1 model.

The 50+1 rule in German football means that at least 51% of a club must be owned by its supporters. This ensures investors looking to earn quick money without any concern for the consequences cannot gain overall control of the club, but money can still be pumped in if necessary.

Gerry Wittmann, of Bundesliga Fanatic, said: “Bayern Munich are of course the dominant team, but probably the 50+1 rule affects the parity in the league, as no one individual can ‘buy’ a championship per se with an influx of big spending”

The shareholders, who are supporters of the club, choose who they want on the board. This means fans have a high level of involvement in the club they support. Each club also have a ‘Fans Projekt’, which is explained by Andy Hudson, of the website Gannin’ Away

“German clubs each have a ‘Fans Projekt’, or similar equivalents, who are employed partly by the club and partly by the local government. They regularly meet with the club and work on behalf of the fans. This combined with the 50 + 1 ruling in Germany means that fans are considered a lot more than in England.

“Those employed with the Fans Projekt are trained social workers, and football fans are treat as part of society and not just as a customer, which is how we’ve become in England. While there are initiatives in England that are similar to certain aspects of Germany, we have a long way to go before we get anywhere near standards in Germany.”

There are exceptions to the 50+1 rule, for example Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg – but only when a company has been investing in a club for more than 20 years, proving it is committed to helping the club, rather than themselves, can they acquire the majority.

Martin Kind, president of Hannover 96, wished to change the rule, believing it prevented the development of German football, in particular German football clubs in the bottom half of the league. Of the 36 clubs in Germany’s top two divisions, only his voted in favour of such a move.

The 50+1 rule is far from perfect – German clubs can get in debt, they can overspend on wages and so on – but, as far as English football is concerned, it could do a lot worse. Especially if it means never again seeing repeats of what has happened at Portsmouth, Darlington et al.

You can follow Gerry on Twitter: @bundesliga4u, and Andy: @HuddoHudson.

For more on Fans Projekts, read our interview with Augsburg fans projekt here.

Lars Bender…I think

Lars Bender was born April 27 1989. Minutes later, Sven Bender arrived on the scene. 22 years later, and they are regarded as two of the hottest prospects in Germany.

The pair started out at SpVgg Unterhaching, making their way through the ranks before together making the short move across the Bavarian capital to join 1860 Munich.

The careers continued dawn the same path at Die Lowen, and in the three full seasons each had with the first team, they both made between 60-70 appearances.

Lars, however, was considered to have slightly more talent than his slightly younger brother. This was mainly due to his greater attacking abilities, and recognised by his being given the captain’s armband (when the regular captain was subbed) at the age of 19 – the youngest player ever to captain 1860 Munich.

In the summer of 2009, the twins finally went their separate ways. Lars signed for Bayer Leverkusen, while Sven went to Borussia Dortmund. Both have experienced plenty of first team action, but it is Sven who has had more success – playing a key role in Dortmund’s Bundesliga title win.

Sven Bender…possibly.

They have both represented Germany at every level, from U17 to the full national side, and both played their part in the Uefa U19 Championship win in 2008. Sven was the first to appear for the national side – in a friendly against Australia in March 2011 – but it wasn’t long before Lars won his first cap, and it is the elder Bender who currently has more caps to his name.

Individually, they are two extremely talented young midfielders, and very good prospects. If a club, or their country, could reunite them in the centre of midfield, they could be the perfect pairing.

“The Bender twins are inevitably going to be compared to one another. They play similar roles, breaking up the play in front of the back four and creating. They both get around the pitch well with their rangy frames and always seem to have a dozen passing options at any point.” – John Dobson, journalist. @dobsonjp

Neuer: Two challengers for his jersey

Manuel Neuer is currently in possession of the Germany number 1 jersey, and is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers not just in Germany, but the world.

That being said, however, he may well face some competition soon in the form of two 19-year-olds by the names of Bernd Leno and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The two goalkeepers have seen their stock rise remarkably this season, and are firmly established as first choice goalkeepers for their respective sides, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Leno came through the ranks at Stuttgart, for whose reserve side he made over 50 appearances.

Ter Stegen, meanwhile, was rather remarkably signed by Die Fohlen at the tender age of four. Since then, he rose steadily through the ranks and established himself in the reserves and often back-up to first choice ‘keeper, Logan Bailly.

Leno found himself unable to break into the Stuttgart first team, but did sign a contract extension in May, which was to keep him at the club until 2014, perhaps a sign of how highly he was rated.

Similarly, ter Stegen found his path to the first team blocked, even when many fans believed he should have been the man between the posts, as opposed to Bailly. His fortunes, much like the club’s, would turn around with the appointment of Lucien Favre.

Leno, not long after signing the aforementioned extension, joined Leverkusen on loan as a replacement for the injured Rene Adler. Since then, he has become the youngest German goalkeeper to appear in the Champions League; and his short-term loan deal has been turned into a permanent one that runs until 2017. Such is his rival’s form, Adler has announced he is to leave Leverkusen when his contract expires.

Ter Stegen finally got his chance towards the end of the 2010/11 season, and ended up playing a part in their avoiding relegation. Since then, he’s been handed the number one jersey (literally and figuratively), while Bailly has been sent out on loan. Mönchengladbach boast the second best defence in the league, and that is in no small part down to ter Stegen.

If it weren’t for Neuer, at least one of them would probably have German caps to their name by now. As it stands, it surely won’t be long before they both do. They may have to wait a while for a chance, Neuer himself is only 25, but it’s a chance that will undoubtedly come. And it’ll be interesting to see which one of them takes it.

“Apart from Gotze, [the most exciting youngster in Germany] is probably Bernd Leno.” – Raphael Honigstein, German football correspondent for The Guardian. @Honigstein.

“Among the many young goalkeepers in Germany, for me, Marc-Andre ter Stegen is the most exciting. He’s incredibly mature for his years.” – Clark Whitney, goal.com German editor. @Mr_Bundesliga.

Who is the better of the two is difficult to say, but you can have your say in the poll below.

Kroos: Schweinsteiger’s long-term replacement?

Toni Kroos is, arguably, the reason more hasn’t been made of the absence of Bastian Schweinsteiger.

That’s not to say Bayern don’t miss him – any side would miss a player of his ability; nor is it to say Kroos is a better player – because he isn’t…yet.

But by the looks of things, he’s certainly on his way, and while Schweinsteiger’s injury may not have benefitted Bayern, it has benefitted Kroos.

Kroos was born in the town of Greifswald, and first emerged through the youth team of his local side – Greifswalder SC (now Greifswalder SV 04). Due to the club’s links with Hansa Rostock, it wasn’t long before he made the move there. And it was at Rostock he was spotted by Bayern Munich.

Kroos was snapped up in 2006 – aged just 16 – and moved to Bayern’s youth team. However, such was his potential, he was making his debut by the age of 17.

His ability didn’t go unnoticed by his senior teammates. Miroslav Klose said of him: “When you see in training, the talent he already has at such a young age, he really is a world-class player. These thoughts were echoed by legendary ‘keeper Oliver Kahn, who said: “He’s the best I’ve seen for years at youth level.”

In January 2009 he was sent on loan to Bayer Leverkusen for 18 months, a move that would ultimately be the making of him. He established himself in the Leverkusen side almost immediately, but it was the following season – his first (and only) full one with the side – that he really made an impact.

He featured in 35 games for Leverkusen in the 2009/10 season, scoring nine goals and helping Leverkusen achieve a 4th place finish. Unsurprisingly they wanted to keep him; even less surprising is that Bayern said no.

Heynckes: big impact on Kroos' career

Since then he’s gone from strength to strength, and, especially since Jupp Heynckes – who he played so well under at Leverkusen – took over, he has began to establish himself as a first team regular.

As mentioned, the injury to Schweinsteiger has perhaps benefitted him. He’s since been deployed in a slightly deeper role, and after perhaps initially looking slightly uncomfortable, now appears to be reveling in it.

The same can be said at international level. He’s came along at a time of plenty for German football, especially in terms of attacking midfielders, yet still made the squad for the 2010 World Cup and is almost certain to do so for Euro 2012.

As stated, he isn’t on Schweinsteiger’s level yet. But if he keeps going the way he is, he may not be long before he reaches it, and perhaps even surpasses it.

“Just a few years ago, Kroos was arguably Germany’s biggest talent. He joined Leverkusen on loan and, under Heynckes, played an incredible season. Hopes were high but when he returned to Bayern with coach Louis van Gaal, he struggled. But now that Heynckes is back, Kroos is better than ever. Probably the closest you’ll get to a playmaker in modern football, his passing is world-class. The only thing Kroos lacks is speed, aside from that he’s brilliant. A superstar in the making.” Bayern Munich blog Red Robbery. Twitter: @redrobbery

“Toni Kroos is looking Schweinsteiger-esque, and when you compare the two at age 21, Kroos is a much better player. The question now is whether he can round off his game with a bit more defensive class; if he can, he will be world class.” – Clark Whitney, goal.com German football editor. Twitter: @Mr_Bundesliga