In the last episode Hansa Rostock managed to reach promotion to the 2. Bundesliga in Marcus Allbäck’s first season at the helm. If you want to catch up on the previous part before moving on to this one, follow this link!
“Welcome and congratulations once again, Marcus!” Hansa Rostock owner Rolf Elgeti smiled and briefly rose from his chair as manager Marcus Allbäck entered his office. The owner hadn’t been seen a lot around the training ground during pre-season so the invitation to his office came as a surprise. Marcus Allbäck was satisfied with the congratulations, but he had a hard time hiding his disappointment in the fact that he hadn’t been offered any real information regarding the new season’s budget or any of the signings he knew they desperately needed to avoid relegation straight back down to the third division.
Mr Elgeti must have seen the lack of a smile on his face and the darkness in his eyes. “What is troubling you, Marcus? You ought to be the happiest man in Rostock considering what you achieved last season!” The fact that Mr Elgeti kept smiling made Marcus Allbäck calm. He started to realize that his worries about the non-existent plans for the upcoming season had been unnecessary. Rolf Elgeti had a plan. He always had a plan. Marcus hoped that these plans involved some serious strengthening of the squad so he went straight to the point. “Tell me Mr Elgeti. How much money do I have at my disposal? We need at least a new keeper, two defenders, a midfielder and a solid striker.” Rolf Elgeti pretended not to understand. “What do you mean, Marcus?” He asked. “Don’t you trust the players you have, the players who brought us to this point?” His voice hardened and the smile on Rolf Elgeti’s face didn’t feel comforting anymore, it felt eerie. It seemed like he had gotten stuck in this expression, like he was hearing some sort of amusing song that no-one else could here.
“I have told you before and I will tell you again. We will not go down that route. We will not sign big names. We will work with the players we’ve got and we’ll try to find Swedish players to fit our IKEA style”, Rolf Elgeti continued.
“Are you really serious, Mr Elgeti?” Marcus replied. “Do you expect me to fight a relegation battle with these players?” Rolf Elgeti first sat quiet, still with a smile on his face, then he started to giggle before he said “No no no, I don’t expect you to fight a relegation battle”. Marcus Allbäck looked puzzled as Rolf Elgeti continued. “I expect you to stay out of the relegation battle!” He couldn’t believe what he had just been told and he honestly didn’t know what to do. Was he gonna resign straight away and leave this sinking ship and it’s mad captain or clench his fists and work harder than ever before. He stood up and silently looked over the desk at the giggling Rolf Elgeti. He quickly turned around and walked out of the office. As he walked down the corridor followed by the echos of Rolf Elgeti’s laughter he asked himself if he had really made a wise choice to stay and fight.
Transfers in and out
It became apparent going into the 2018/19 season that there really wouldn’t be any money available for signings, so Marcus Allbäck had to look in the bargain bin and at free agents to find players to strengthen the squad.
Filip Helander (66% IKEA) was a true bargain. After having been signed by Bologna for €2M only a year ago it was a bit strange that we found him transfer listed for the bargain price of €190K. A solid defender and a Swede on top of that he came in as the biggest signing of the transfer window. He will contribute with international experience and still has the chance to improve a bit more as he is only 25 years old.
Four other players were brought in on free transfers, with Belgian left back Corentin Fiore (67% IKEA) as a contender for the left back position. The other three (Mills, Koukou and Thoelke) were simply picked up to provide some depth in central defence and midfield.
Six players left the club with Holthaus as perhaps the most noticeable departure. He became upset with the signing of Fiore and wanted to leave and when St. Pauli offered some decent money he was off. Swedish winger Petar Petrovic went back to domestic football when Swedish Premier Division team Djurgården came in with a bid that was too good to turn down.
To call the first half of the 2018/19 season a struggle is a real understatement. Being knocked out of the German Cup by Bundesliga team Schalke 04 didn’t really raise any eyebrows, but it was apparent that the team struggled to adapt to the tougher climate of the 2. Bundesliga. The style of play that had earned the team a promotion spot last season obviously didn’t produce the same kind of results in this division, which meant that manager Marcus Allbäck started experimenting, which only made matters worse.
From the end of September up until the win against Greuther Fürth in the final game of the year Hansa Rostock lost nine games and only won one. This meant that the team were parked in 17th place after half the season, which felt like a bit of a disappointment. If the team can’t find their winning ways again there is a real chance that they’ll face relegation at the end of the season which would basically put everything back at square one again.
Until next time, auf Wiedersehen!
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