Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Germany: Skibbe under pressure as Eintracht struggle

Posted in European Football by peterbein on March 14, 2011
Michael Skibbe

Eintracht coach Michael Skibbe is under pressure following some bad results

After nearly 800 minutes without a goal in the Bundesliga Eintracht Frankfurt finally managed to hit the back of the net in Saturday’s game away at Schalke 04. Greek full-back Georgios Tzavellas’ hopeful punt from deep inside his own half was initially looking for his compatriot Theofanis Gekas in the Eintracht attack but the bounce of the ball wrong-footed Schalke keeper Manuel Neuer and the ball found its way into the goal from 73 metres to equalize the game at 1-1. Alas it would be another Greek who would deprive Eintracht of a much-needed point as Angelos Charisteas secured the three points for the home side in the 86th minute, thus adding to the pressure on Frankfurt coach Michael Skibbe.

Skibbe hasn’t always been the most popular figure with Frankfurt fans. Having succeeded Friedhelm Funkel at the start of the 2009-10 season he started off his tenure by taking away the captaincy from fans’ favourite Ioannis Amanatidis. But he hasn’t always been popular with the upper echelons of the club’s staff either; last season Skibbe consistently questioned the future direction and ambition of the club which led many pundits to believe that he wouldn’t see out the season as club coach. After talks with the club chairman Heribert Bruchhagen, Skibbe made peace with the Powers-That-Be and led the team to an respectable 10th place.

At the start of the current campaign Skibbe boasted that his team should be aiming to finish the 2010-11 season on 50 points, four more than the club achieved last term, and perhaps look towards fighting for European club competition. After a dreadful start to the season which saw the club lose four of its first five matches, Eintracht recovered to win seven out of the next twelve including a 1-0 home victory against runaway leaders Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 17. This left the club with 26 points and lying in seventh place in the table at the halfway stage and it seemed that Skibbe’s pre-season points prediction was back on course.

But Eintracht is never an easy club to predict, which is why many of its followers refer to it as “The Moody Diva”. Just when the club appears to doing something right you can (almost) always guarantee that something will go wrong. After the winter break Skibbe went on a collision course with Amanatidis, dropping him from the squad altogether, before the adverse fan reaction and subsequent meeting with Bruchhagen forced him to do a U-turn. In the meantime the club had lost the knack of goalscoring. Theofanis Gekas, who was the Bundesliga’s second highest scorer after Matchday 17 with 14 goals, hasn’t hit the back of the net since but then that’s not totally his fault as the rest of the team hadn’t seen the back of the net either before Tzavellas’ freak goal on Saturday. Whereas last season many of Eintracht’s goals came from midfield players such as Alexander Meier (10), Benjamin Koehler (4), and Caio (4) now there is a drought coming from all areas of the field which has led to the side going 794 minutes without a goal. It says much about the side and its lack of confidence at the moment that the only way it could eventually find the back of the net was not from a shot inside their opponent’s penalty box but from a defensive clearance!!

For many Michael Skibbe has run out of ideas and is looking increasingly isolated in a way which has already affected other coaches at more successful teams in the league such as FC Bayern’s Louis Van Gaal, Hamburger SV coach Armin Veh (who was sacked following their 6-0 defeat to FC Bayern on Saturday) or, ironically, Schalke 04 coach Felix Magath who’s future is in doubt despite reaching the German Cup final and the last eight of the UEFA Champions League. What’s worse for Eintracht is that clubs they finished higher than in the 2009-10 season such as Hannover 96, 1.FC Nuernberg and SC Freiburg are in the midst of successful seasons and are all challenging for Europe with each team lying in 3rd, 6th and 7th places respectively.

Eintracht, on the other hand, have dropped to 15th place and are only above St. Pauli on goal difference before this weekend’s crucial home game against the Hamburg based club. For Skibbe it could well be his last chance to salvage his job and the club’s season, assuming he hasn’t already been sacked by then……………..

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