Business as usual at 1.FCN
The midpoint of the season has been reached in Germany and so far its been business as usual for FCN:
- A few encouraging performances
- A few horrible performances
- A new star in the form of Japanese midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake
- A few signs that Glubb have the ability to challenge for a European place in the second half of the season
- A few signs that Glubb could be fighting a relegation battle at the end of the season
In all reality nobody will expect anything more or less than a mid-table finish and the preservation of Bundesliga status. The quality of Kiyotake and occasional fantastic performances from other players (such as Markus Feulner against Hoffenheim, and Robert Mak in fits and starts, most recently when coming on as substitute against Bremen) have helped to make up for the lack of a high quality regular goalscoring striker. Timm Klose at the centre of defence has upped his game and has put in several magnificent performances to help fill the gap left by the departed Wollscheid and Maroh.
Twenty points is a respectable enough haul from the first 17 games. True, another 4 or 5 would make a relegation battle highly unlikely and could even have provided a platform from which to challenge for a top seven place. However, despite inconsistency, Dieter Hecking was able to show that he can get his team performing and gaining the necessary points to avoid trouble at the foot of the table. Furthermore, the seemingly hopeless position of bottom two clubs Fuerth and Augsburg, and the gap of eight points between between Glubb and Hoffenheim, should see FCN sitting happily in the middle of the pack come May.
It should. But since the winter break started things have changed for 1.FCN. Hecking, the mastermind of three years of renewed hope in Nuremberg has left to become coach of Wolfsburg, his family and Wolsburg’s vast wealth apparently the reasons for his departure.
In come U23 coach Michael Wiesinger and Hecking’s former assistant Armin Reutershahn to take charge of the first team, at least until the end of the season. As joint head-coaches they have already indicated their intent to continue from where Hecking left off. However, it is certain they will want to make the team perform with greater consistency and will also be hoping to be able to spend at least the reported 750,000 Euro compensation paid by Wolfsburg, to strengthen attacking options. Many will also want to see some changes in playing style when things are not going well, and a willingness to experiment a little more than Hecking seems to have done.
So as usual it will be an uncertain second half of the season for Nuremberg. The only thing for sure is the continuing potential for another five months of ups and downs.