Bremen back coach Kohfeldt as players blamed for dramatic form slump

By Lars Reinefeld, dpa

Until recently, Florian Kohfeldt had been on the up-and-up at Werder Bremen. But a disastrous run of form has seen his team lose to unfancied Paderborn before conceding 11 goals in two games. Yet Kohfeldt has the club’s backing – and has warned his squad that such poor performances have consequences.

It was Werder Bremen’s worst loss in Florian Kohfeldt’s time in charge. His side’s 5-0 capitulation at home to Mainz on Tuesday left the young coach seething – but determined to stay the course.

“There’s an unbelievable rage in me,” he said. “I won’t walk away from here. I’ll fight with everything I have to steer this in the right direction again.”

Unlike other Bundesliga coaches in his position, he’ll be given time to do so. Despite Bremen’s frightening loss of form in their last three league games – a 1-0 defeat at home to now-bottom-of-the-table Paderborn and a 6-1 drubbing away to Bayern Munich preceded the Mainz game – Kohfeldt enjoys the club’s backing.

Bremen’s top brass wanted to usher in a new era under the 37-year-old – and that goal hasn’t changed. “We don’t discuss the coach, we discuss with the coach how we get out of this situation,” sporting director Frank Baumann says. “I’m as utterly convinced as ever that we’ll come out of this together with Flo.”

Even a defeat to Cologne in Saturday’s basement battle is unlikely to change that, Kohfeldt claims, saying that Baumann told him immediately after the Mainz game that there was “no question of changing coach.”

Instead it’s the Bremen players who are under fire. “Before the game and during half-time the boys shout at each other, push each other, motivate each other, so that the walls shake,” says Baumann, who, like Kohfeldt, is responsible for player recruitment. “But on the pitch that was an excuse of a performance.”

But the pair’s signings are under scrutiny. Against Mainz it was clear – not for the first time this season – that the team lacks pace and resilience. Worse, it looked like the players didn’t want it enough.

And so Kohfeldt broke his habit of backing his players regardless of performance. “Today I can’t defend anything,” he said. “Today you have to talk about those who were on the pitch, today there was no need for a coach.”

The coach substituted midfielder Nuri Sahin after just 27 minutes of the Mainz game, but in truth there were 10 other candidates for humiliation on the pitch.

After what would be a no-doubt sleep-deprived night, Kohfeldt wanted to discuss with Baumann the consequences of Bremen’s nosedive on Wednesday. That captain Niklas Moisander called the defeat “embarrassing” didn’t placate the coach. “They should have thought about that beforehand,” he said.

There will likely be changes to the squad for the Cologne game and players brought in during the winter break. But Kohfeldt, apparently, is going nowhere.


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