At some stage it seemed that youngster Faton Toski needed an operation as well – which would have been the 16th in the running season. Luckily that op wasn’t needed which comes as a surprise looking at the bad luck Eintracht seems to have throughout the Bundesliga campaign 2008/09. 15 operations have meant long term recovery periods for the affected players, psychological strains, pressure on the reaming team and every time it happened it was déjà vu time and meant a true test for the morale of squad, managers and fans – basically for everyone involved.
Always change an injured team
It also meant that the players would not play in the same starting line up very often, new squad members would not get used to tactics or the demands of the Bundesliga, the integration of new signings was made even more difficult than it already is. Also true Eintracht leaders were affected, skipper and top striker Amanatidis, influential midfielder Chris, or left defender and Swiss international Spycher (picture above), all strong minded players being able to guide the younger ones and help new signings to get used to team and league. Even in goal we had a constant merry-go-round between Nikolov, Proell and Zimmermann due to injuries.
Don’t mention the Doc
There were also rumours that our medical team was not up to modern standards or that training and physical exercises were inappropriate. Well, a witchdoctor would know more about that than me, but thinking about it I honestly would not believe that a body like the medical expert team of a Bundesliga club could stand a chance if they made serious mistakes over the course of a year or two. The media reported that these guys always consulted external experts on the serious injuries and also players used their own medics here and there. As I see it it’s a case of bad luck, very VERY bad luck.
Well needed players return
But slowly but surely some important players made their way back into the team or are about to do so. Alex Meier, a midfielder with a promising goal ratio, seems to improve from game to game since having a weak start after the winter break, and he scored his first goal after his comeback away to Leverkusen (final result 1-1). Also the strong and defensively very important Brazil allrounder Chris came back and already made an impact in strengthening the Eagles aim not to concede too many goals. Austrian Euro 2008 star Korkmaz returned after breaking his foot (twice of course, the second time just after having recovered from the first) and gives us more flexibility up front, supporting striker Fenin. Zlatan Bajramovic (who was signed as a long term injured player with no reassurance whether he’d make it back at all) recently joined the squad after a very long break from a nasty toe injury, he had a few minutes in the Leverkusen game and even scored for his country Bosnia in the World Cup qualifier away to Belgium (final score 4-2 to his team, he assisted the fourth goal even). The sorely missed Amanatidis and Spycher have also joined practice sessions with the Eintracht team which is a milestone on their timeline of recovery.
At this stage I’d like to say ‘Thank you & Evgaristo’ to the Greek Eintracht followers that have recently emailed – keep the faith and hopefully your fellow country men Lymberopoulos (picture above) and Amanatidis will return soon to help taking the Eagle’s performances to higher levels!
There are already signs that the game of Eintracht improved recently, with experience and skill returning to the team and the pressure being taken off the shoulders of the younger players and the ones that have joined not too long ago. But let’s face it – we desperately need improvement of all sorts as we’re close to the relegation zone. The next game against East-German Energie Cottbus will be another tough one, and let’s all keep our fingers crossed we finally get that first home win in 2009 and three ever so important points!
A Blast from the Past – Eintracht in 1988/89 – play off time v Tony
20 years ago, on Friday the 31st of March in 1989 we had a home game against VfL Bochum. This came as an important game in the relegation struggle that season (feels familiar doen’t it): Eintracht in spot 15 of the table, Bochum just two places above us – a ‘six pointer’ as they call it in England. Unsurprisingly the attendance was low – only 10,000 made their way to the Waldstadion back then, and the game became nervy when Dieter Eckstein couldn’t finish from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute – Bochum keeper Ralf Zumdick saved. Matters got worse when Josef ‘Jupp’ Nehl scored and the Ruhr team seemed to grab an important away win to put Eintracht into even deeper troubles. But Frankfurt born and bred Manni Binz saved the Eagle’s neck by scoring the equalizer in the 81st minute. A 1-1 draw didn’t really help in that situation.
A day later and a division lower, on the 01st of April that year FC Saarbruecken hosted a 2nd Bundesliga game against Blau-Weiss Berlin. In the 23rd minute Saarbruecken went 1-0 up – the goal was scored by a certain Anthony Yeboah and his team went on to win the game 2-1.
Frankfurt’s struggle continued that season and Yeboah’s goals helped Saarbruecken to move up in the 2. Bundesliga table.
All this meant that at the end of the season Eintracht and the men from the river Saar met after the season for the Bundesliga playoffs – Frankfurt being third from bottom in Bundesliga and Saarbruecken being third in the division below. The playoffs were played over two legs and Eintracht managed a comforting but never too reassuring 2-0 home win with goals from Joern Andersen and (again) Binz. The second leg was again a nerve wracking affair when the challenger went 1-0 up after 10 minutes – who else than Tony Yeboah scored. It was a tough game and when Frank Schulz scored the 1-1 the sighs of relieve in Frankfurt and surroundings were loud. The away goal meant that the opponent had to score three more goals to threaten us, and even with Yeboah – who scored another one in the 75th – that was unlikely. And it stayed 2-1 after all…just made it!
So the Egales including Frankfurt legends Uli Stein in goal and Charly Koerbel in defense (who went on to become Bundesliga’s record player with 601 appearances) and managed by Joerg Berger who would save their Bundesliga comfort again 10 years later (that classic ‘Uebersteiger’ Fjoertoft goal – but that’s another story altogether) were lucky and stayed in the top division. They experienced a major threat called Anthony Yeboah and after watching him another season in the league below where he scored 17 in 37 games the management made the move and signed him. Saarbruecken had reached the playoffs again that season but failed once more. Yeboah though was ready for top flight action. He scored in his very first game at home to Karlsruhe – we went on to finish 4th and qualified for the UEFA Cup. The beginning of a wonderful time for us supporters – the launch of ‘Football 2000’ as they called the attacking Eintracht style – Uwe Bein, Uli Stein, Andi Moeller, the above mentioned Manni Binz and the birth of another all time Eintracht legend with Tony becoming the first African skipper of a Bundesliga team, top scorer in two seasons and the first player with his own fan club – Yeboah’s witnesses.
Well, well, those were the days and funny enough after ditching the playoffs for nearly a couple of decades the Bundesliga association decided to bring them back at the end of the current campaign. Hopefully Eintracht will recover from their roller coaster season and hopefully we won’t have to go through that edgy process of two games being decisive between top flight football and away games in Oberhausen, Augsburg or heaven help us Ingolstadt.
On the other hand, if that’s the way to come across another top signing like Tony it might be worth it! ;-)