“Schneller, schneller! Faster, faster!”
Manager Marcus Allbäck went from talking to yelling. The training session was just 15 minutes old, but Allbäck was enduring yet another Hansa player who stopped chasing yet another slightly inaccurate pass. Allbäck turned to coach Rade Prica and switched from German to Swedish.
“Titta på dem! Look at them! It’s like they don’t understand what it takes.” He suddenly stopped the drill and gathered the players around him. “What is up? Most of you just give up when it gets tough. It’s like the St. Pauli game all over again.”
Some of the players squirmed and some looked down on the grass, but a couple of the players looked directly at Allbäck and one of them spoke up: “But boss! That was so unlucky!” Marcel Ziemer said. “We were the better team”, Pascal Breier filled in. Allbäck interrupted their whining. “Yes guys, you are right! I’ll call the football association straight away and tell them. I’m sure they’ll let us through to the next round of the cup out of pity.” Allbäck had the nerve himself to withstand the urge to look away from the group of players. The team was doing slightly better than what had been expected of them before the season started. Residing in 3rd position neither players nor supporters were disappointed, and there lay the problem. Allbäck was neither happy nor satisfied and wanted the players to hunger for more than a mid-season third place in the third tier of German football.
“We lack the willingness to run the extra metre and the composure to score when the chances are there”, he continued. He was right. In the last couple of games the team had kept on creating chances like before, but the team, and Pascal Breier in particular, had stopped scoring. The only player who had impressed in the last couple of games was Petar Petrovic, one of Allbäck‘s two young Swedish signings. In all honesty neither him nor Piotr Johansson are better or more talented than the rest of the players in the squad, but Allbäck had brought them in just to keep the other players on their toes. No player should feel safe about their spot in the starting eleven. He wanted them all to strive for constant improvement. It felt more like a stroke of luck than one of genius that Petrovic had started scoring when Breier seemed to have forgotten how. However it was apparent that the signings had began to have the desired effect on the squad. As the players went out on the pitch again Marcel Ziemer snuck up on fellow striker Pascal Breier.
“I bet there’ll be a young Swedish striker arriving to take your place soon if you don’t get your shit together”, he said with a smile.
Breier didn’t smile back. Instead he decided to, for the first time in his life, try to run that extra metre.
The season started off well, with the only real bump in the road in the first ten games being the cup loss to fierce rivals and fellow former East German team St. Pauli. Rostock created more chances and were the slightly better team, but St. Pauli scored the goals. Rostock got as close as a 93rd minute header against the post by winger Alibaz, but St. Pauli won the game.
After four straight wins with striker Pascal Breier on fire (see what I did there?) the same pattern repeated itself. Rostock created chances but pretty much stopped scoring and conceded a few too many sloppy goals. A top of the league position turned into a third place as September became October.
With six teams within two points of each other and another four teams within reasonable distance, it’s still pretty much an open race for the promotion spots. Playing both 7th placed Unterhaching and 9th placed Aalen in October, Rostock have a chance of narrowing the race down a bit, but for that to happen they need to start scoring again!
Before the transfer window closed late August we saw two players join the club, both from the Swedish 2nd tier and both for a fee of €300K.
Petar Petrovic (48% IKEA) has scored 3 goals in 4 appearances (3 off the bench) and has quickly become the no1 pick for the left IF position. He isn’t really better than Marcel Hilsser who started the season in that position, so if he falls out of form he may lose his spot just as quickly.
Piotr Johansson (54% IKEA) has made 4 appearances off the bench so far and has been ok. He has been a bit underwhelming in training, but hopefully he’ll pick up and become a real contender for the RB position currently held by Vladimir Rankovic.
The team bounced back after a quite underwhelming September and appeared to be in form again. The obvious high of the period was an emphatic 4-1 win against local rivals Jena. However, that win also marked the end of a 5 game unbeaten run that was followed by 4 straight games without a win. The team looked lack-lustre and Marcus Allbäck started experimenting tactically, without really finding a solution to the team’s problem.
The biggest issue was the number of sloppy goals that were conceded, a lot of them coming from balls in behind the rather slow back four. In an attempt to stop the bleeding, the defensive line was dropped closer to their own goal, without any real effect on goals conceded. The biggest impact of the tactical change was that the team stopped creating chances of their own.
This rather rocky period (W4, D3, L2) saw Hansa Rostock drop three places down into 6th, but with only three points between them and leaders Sonnenhof Grossaspach it’s still an open race. Another four teams still have at least a theoretical chance at promotion, so Marcus Allbäck and his Hansa Rostock will need to find a decent tactic fast to get back to winning ways straight away when the season re-starts in January. Otherwise they risk missing the promotion train as it leaves the station.
Until next time, auf Wiedersehen!
For more content by @MikaelinhoFM, do go and check out his Brommapojkarna save! Follow the link below to check out the series from the very beginning.
Thanks for reading!