Brandenburger SC Süd trainer Udo Richter obviously missed Football Excuses 101. It’s imperative for every football trainer to know when to defend his players, when to administer a firm kick up the backside, and when to come up with something a little more creative.
The reason for his side’s desperate capitulation against Viktoria was not anything as original as too many computer games. Or that the players couldn’t see each other (and, considering the snowy conditions, this one could have even worked). Or even the old classic, the referee did us.
No, his excuse was that he expected “much much more passion, much much more heart – I didn’t see that in my team today.” Certainly a great excuse in the right circumstances – a cup defeat to a lower-league team, for example. Or if you throw away a lead in the last minute. Not when you’ve just been utterly, utterly destroyed by a team vastly superior both in a footballing and organisational sense.
At half-time, Viktoria were already 3-0 to the good and looking very comfortable. A burst of acceleration and an excellent finish from the lively Ümit Ergirdi opened the scoring, and the second was a simple finish for Timur Özgöz after a slick passing move involving Norbert Lemcke and Burat Mentes that really defied the snowy conditions. An own goal from Tom Mauersberger, again with Lemcke’s involvement, put the snowy icing on the half-time cake.
The visitors had shown so little invention in the first forty-five minutes that it was clear that the second would be a combination of shooting practice and damage limitation. Something had to change for the Brandenburgers – Viktoria’s fluid front four had completely overloaded the visitor’s defence, effectively turning the final third into the midfield zone. Errors there were punished ruthlessly.
So what to do? Push up the defensive line, of course, but more importantly, get tighter on the indolently relaxed playmaking skills of Ibrahim Keser. The Turkish midfielder was like a magnificent sloth conducting play at his leisure, and he and Norbert Lemcke had all the time in the world. Lemcke looked nothing like the hulking, clattering beast he was a Dynamo – turns out he’s a great deal more effective playing delicately-measured through balls for Timur Özgöz to run on to than doing an impression of a big fuck-off scarlet wall in front of the defence. His attention forced Steven-Matthias Meier into another own goal after BSC keeper Conny Wieland parried a free-kick.
Özgöz broke free of the ludicrously high defensive line several times in the second half, and the only Brandenburger that knew how to stop him was the Wieland. He was wholly responsible for keeping the score in single figures, as the defence in front of him failed to grasp the very, very important concept of how to organise a defence. There was clearly a leadership vacuum, and with captain Rene Gerisch cutting a lonely figure up front (but still forcing a solid save with a long-range attempt from Marc Stillenmunkes, who really should have been frozen solid from inactivity), Wieland was the only player who seemed to understand what his job was.
”We had five blackouts,” claimed Richter after the game, and it was grating to hear such an abdication of responsibility. “I spent all week telling the team how Viktoria would play,” he continued, ”playing the ball forward and hoping for mistakes from the opposition.” This did no justice whatsoever to just how good Viktoria were, playing some excellent, pacy passing football – exactly the sort of football that one would presume couldn’t be played on a snowy surface that was just as likely to send the ball skidding out of play as to snare it in a mini snowdrift.
But all is not lost for BSC Süd. With Türkiyemspor’s insolvency, they are free to plan for next year’s Oberliga without the pressure of a relegation battle. With some hard work on defensive organization, maybe the correct excuse won’t be necessary.