Posts Tagged ‘Premier League’

Cisse: scores for fun, but Freiburg are better off without him

When staring relegation in the face, selling your top scorer doesn’t exactly sound like the best way to reverse the situation.

Yet that is exactly what SC Freiburg did in January, when Papiss Cisse moved to Newcastle for £10m.

He has made an unbelievable start to his career in the Premier League, with 10 goals in nine games for the Magpies and comparisons being drawn to Andy Cole. Despite this, however, Freiburg actually seem better off without him.

With him in the side, they picked up 13 points from 17 games, averaged 1.23 goals per game and were rooted to the bottom of the Bundesliga.

Without him, they have 22 points from 13 games, average 1.53 goals per game and, if the table had begun after the winter break, would be sitting fifth (as it is, they are 12th).

His departure has seen the team play with more freedom, thus, while they don’t have anyone capable of scoring the goals he did, they now have more contributions from throughout the team. Cedric Makiadi has scored four of his six Bundesliga goals since Cisse’s exit; Daniel Caligiuri all five of his.

Stefan Bienkowski, founder of Bundesliga Football and Bundesliga writer for Four Four Two, said: “Despite Cisse’s obvious ability, and record with Freiburg, and now Newcastle, he wasn’t actually having his best form before his transfer. The club have obviously moved on since his departure and players like Caligiuri have been able to flourish, to the delight of the club.”

There is, of course, previous of teams performing better once the ‘star player’ is no longer the focus of everything. An example being Thierry Henry, towards the end of his time at Arsenal, and Steven Gerrard, as discussed by Jonathan Wilson here.

It should also be said that the reason for their resurgence is not solely down to the Senegal striker leaving. Over the winter break they also changed manager; out went Marcus Sorg, and it was up to youth coach Christian Streich to take over the reigns.

They now have the highest percentage of homegrown players in the Bundesliga, something Bienkowski believes has been a big factor. He said: “Such a local squad has obviously done well to ban together and the siege mentality that they possess has helped them overcome big and small sides, alike.”

One of those big sides, Bayern Munich, can perhaps be used to show just how much Freiburg have turned things around. They were hammered 7-0 by Bayern back in October. In February, with many predicting a similar outcome, they gained a 0-0 draw. Since then, they have played eight games, winning five, drawing twice and losing just once.

It is a similar story to that of Borussia Monchengladbach’s escape last season, although one that is far from finished. They may sit 12th, but they are only six points above the relegation zone.

Freiburg is a club well-known for yo-yoing between divisions. If they can avoid it this season – and form suggests they will – then they could banish that tag once and for all.

Meanwhile, the clip below shows what Cisse has been up to since he left:



To find out more about fan projekts, mentioned by Andy Hudson in this article, we spoke to Dennis Galanti of the Augsburg Fan Projekt.

Das Boot: What exactly is the purpose of a fans projekt?

Dennis Galanti: The purpose of a fan projekt is on the one side preventive social work with teenage and young adult football fans. And this has to do on the other side with the support of young football fans subculture – like Ultras, Supporter Groups etc – because they are very attractive for young fans. In Augsburg this means that we help young fans with normal day or with football specific problems. It´s a kind of empowerment social work, that tries to find ways of expression for their subculture. To carry out this work we have a room for meetings, workshops, to make flags etc. We are also organizing over a year a couple of projects e.g. football tournaments for young people, workshops etc. Very important for us is anti-racist work.

DB: How do fans projekts work with the club?

DG: Our fans project works with the club on fan specific topics and they support us in the work with young fans. This means that the club works with us on fan issues and security issues and is helping us in the realisation of projects, workshops etc. It`s for example possible for us to get a player for discussions or workshops.

DB: What has your projekt specifically been involved in?

DG: We are specifically involved in anti-racist work in Augsburg. For us this has to do with violence prevention. We are organizing workshops and informational meetings on racism and work for tolerance. In the summer we are organizing our 4th ‘Copa Augusta Antiracista’ – an anti-racist fan tournament.

DB: Do you think something similar could work in England?

DG: I think it`s possible, but like in Germany this would have great regional differences. The fans projects in Germany have really great regional differences, because of structural reasons – social workers, rooms, city, money etc. – and of subcultural reasons – fan/ultragroups, hooligans, crowd, political expression etc. A question for me is: is there a football movement in the moment in England that is attractive for young fans? So if traditional supporter groups or also hooligan groups or new forms of organisation are attractive for young fans it think it`s also possible to make a more subcultural way of work.

DB: What are your feelings on the 50+1 rule?

DG: The 50+1 rule is an important rule for traditional football fans to defend the identity of their clubs. Realistically it seems to be problematic to keep the rule alive for lawful reasons within the European Union. So in my opinion football fans and clubs have to find another ways to keep German football tradition alive. There are a couple of initiatives, also in Augsburg, that try to force their clubs to implement an 50+1 rule in their statute or a membership vote for things like club names, colors, shirts etc. Very interesting.

Many thanks to Dennis for taking the time to answer our questions. You can visit the Augsburg Fan Projekt website here.

Mesut Ozil – practically a veteran at 23

Germany have perhaps the greatest pool of young talent currently available to any football playing nation.

However, it wasn’t always this way, and much like the other articles in this series, the way Germany turned things around following their Euro 2000 disappointment is very much something England could and should be looking at.

Just over a decade ago, having looked at poor performances from the national side, clubs in financial meltdowns and an ever-increasing number of foreign players, it was commissioned for 121 national talent centres, for players aged 10-17, to be built throughout Germany; while every club in the top two divisions had to have a youth academy.

Clark Whitney, German football editor of, said: “There is nothing serendipitous about the quality and quantity of young talent coming from the German first and second divisions. In 2000, after an aging Germany side utterly failed at the European Championship, the DFL made strict requirements for all 1. and 2. Bundesliga clubs to have youth academies, with very specific guidelines regulating their quality.

“There are also periodic sessions in which crops of youngsters are brought together to be trained in the style of the senior national team. The result is a large number of talented players who are well-nurtured, and take very little time to integrate into the senior national team.”

The benefits are clear for all to see. In recent years Germany have won the U17, U19 and U21 European Championships, and are one of the favourites for the senior tournament this summer.

The likes of Mesut Ozil, Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller and regarded as superstars, yet not one of them is older than 23. Similarly, the likes of Mats Hummels and Marco Reus are ready to burst onto the world stage, and there are plenty more waiting-in-line.

By contrast, England still call upon the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Scott Parker, John Terry and so on – all of whom are at least 30. There are some exceptions – Jack Wilshere, Phil Jones, Kyle Walker to name a few – but, ultimately, the English national side continues to be an ageing one, filled with players who have experience, and contributed to, past failures.

The fiasco that was no qualifying for Euro 2008, and the woeful performances in 2010’s World Cup were both supposed to lead to a youth revolution, but it is to the old stars Fabio Capello has turned, suggesting the younger players are not good enough.

Germany looks like having a side to challenge for at least the next decade. England may take that long before even attempting to catch-up.

You can follow Clark on Twitter: @Mr_Bundesliga.

In the last ten seasons, three different clubs have won the Premier League; five have won the Bundesliga.

Eight teams have finished inside the top four in the Premier League; ten in the Bundesliga.

It may not seem like much, but it does perhaps make all the difference. While the Premier League is not as much of a two-horse race as La Liga or the SPL, it isn’t exactly wide open either.

The Manchester United/Arsenal rivalry became Man Utd/Chelsea, and now it’s Man Utd/Man City. Tottenham have briefly challenged but fallen away. The challenges from Spurs and Man City represent a shift in power, but also highlight the decline of sides like Liverpool and Arsenal.

One of the reasons the Bundesliga is a more open competition is that clubs are made it live within their means. It receives far less in both matchday and TV revenue, with a licencing agreement meaning all clubs are on more of a level playing field. The Bundesliga receives just under €600m in television income; the Premier League: almost €2bn.

Around 50% of Bundesliga clubs’ revenue is spent on players wages, amongst the lowest in Europe (certainly the lowest of the big five leagues) and well below the 70% outlined by Uefa’s Financial Fair Play.

Raphael Honigstein, German football correspondent for The Guardian, said: “The licensing system levels the playing field somewhat as it forces clubs to live within their means. This does not make everyone the same but increases the chances of bigger teams slipping up as they can’t simply throw money at it in January, for example.”

The counter argument, of course, is that the Bundesliga has less quality. Bayern Munich were the last German side to win the Champions League, and that was back in 2001. Manchester United and Liverpool have both won the competition since then, while Manchester United have reached the final a further two times, Liverpool made another appearance in the final, and Arsenal reached it in 2006.

Clark Whitney,’s German football editor, expanded on this, saying: “As much as I hate to admit it, quality does play a role. The Bundesliga was relatively poor in the mid-2000s, which made for a more unpredictable league, but one in which there just wasn’t a team with the class to contend. Bayern didn’t have hopes of winning the Champions League, and did just enough in the transfer market to succeed. Of course, they have repeatedly failed to defend their title, primarily due to their refusal to bring in adequate squad depth to take some weight off the stars’ shoulders after a big tournament like Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.

“Things are changing now, of course, as teams like Dortmund are able to produce top class line-ups for pennies, thanks to good scouts and the quality of youth being produced all over Germany.

“There are some other differences, however: culturally, clubs see a match against Bayern as an opportunity, not a death sentence. They give an extra 10% in such games – you won’t see opponents fielding reserves in Germany when they face a top side, unlike what we’ve seen at times in England and Spain.”


Bayern’s impressive Allianz Arena – where you can see football for less than in the Conference

Safe standing, written about here, isn’t the only advantage the Bundesliga has over the Premier League when it comes to matchdays.

Ticket pricing is another issue where there is a stark contrast between Germany and England, and yet again it is Germany who comes up smelling of roses.

The average ticket price in the Bundesliga is around €12-15 – less than half of what a fan would normally pay to attend a game in the Premier League.

Included in the price, Bundesliga tickets also double as tickets for rail travel, meaning fans do not have to spend more money, on top of what they paid for their match ticket, to get to and from the game.

Gannin’ Away’s Andy Hudson said: “Darlington charged £18 for tickets to their match against Gateshead last season, in the Conference National! Bayern Munich charged €12 for a standing ticket for their Bundesliga games.

“Ticket prices in the UK exploit the fans; it simply isn’t affordable or sustainable. We’ve seen price freezes at many clubs because they cannot get fans to games and so, other than dropping prices, have nowhere left to go with their charging structure. What other industry has seen such a price hike, far exceeding yearly inflation, than the UK, and specifically English, football?

“I can travel abroad and see a game for less than travelling to Chelsea to see Newcastle’s away game, once food, drink, travel and what not is all factored in. We had the Sky invention of football in 1992 that coincided with clubs living above and beyond their means. This hasn’t happened in Germany where the fan involvement in the corridors of power has kept away, by-and-large, the grubby hands of those solely in it for the making of money.”

In November 2010, fans of St Pauli marched through the streets before their game against Wolfsburg, in a demonstration against ticket touts.

In August of that year, fans of Borussia Dortmund protested and boycotted their game away to Schalke – regarded as the biggest derby in Germany – as Schalke had increased ticket prices for the game to €22 – almost double the usual price.

To add context to that, when Sunderland travelled to QPR earlier this season, fans had to pay almost £50 for a ticket, and that did not include travel – which would probably amount to another £50.

So, with match tickets and travel included, fans in England pay around 4-5 times what fans in Germany do. There are no protests, no fans staying away or marching through the streets.

Germany sees the fans as exactly that. England sees the fans as consumers, just a number; people to spend money. Many fans over here in England ask how Germany got it so right. Fans in Germany are likely to ask, and we should perhaps do the same, how England got it so wrong.

You can follow Andy Hudson on Twitter: @HuddoHudson, and check out his website Gannin’ Away here.