Winter break: FC Augsburg

17th Place

Grade: D

OK, it’s if you’re in 17th place with not much of a chance to avoid relegation, shouldn’t you get an “F”? Strictly speaking that would be true. But we are talking someone the equivalent of Wigan of the EPL (and I bet only George Orwell can even find them on a map). This is a 2.Liga team with 2.Liga players who managed to sneak into the Bundesliga. They’re like that the foreigner who doesn’t speak a lick of English who shows up for class but smiles a lot, so everybody likes him. That adorable Japanese exchange student who says things like “He-rro?”, when he really is just asking directions to the bathroom.

The other great thing is the residents of Augsburg call themselves “Fuggers“, which leads to all sorts of hilarity for us English speakers. From a footballing standpoint, the only thing famous about them is 60’s star Helmut Haller has roots here. But the fans fully back the team, and the players give 100% in every match. It’s just the talent isn’t there. I remember one case where a player (I think it was Sascha Mölders) attempted a bicycle kick in a promising position. A top rate player would have forced a save or at least put it on goal. This effort ended somewhere near the corner flag…

But how can you criticize a club who’s market value is somewhere around 30 million euros? And this is a pretty big squad. The most expensive player is around 2 million, and that’s a lot more than the average. In other words, Bayern could sell Arjen Robben, buy the whole squad and still have enough leftover to set up a nice brew pub.

Veteran journeyman GK Simon Jentzsch has been pretty busy, and done a good job. Despite his age (35), no reason to collect Social Security yet. Occasionally they’ve inserted a youngster, Morrocan-German Mohammed Assif, but he’s been lame.

Augsburg is full of nobodies on defense, but they’re not the worse defenders in the league. They’re not a young squad, so probably no diamonds in the rough – all battle scarred 2.Liga veterans. Perhaps Sebastian Langkamp (23), who has looked pretty good in limited action, might aspire for a greater future.

The midfield is the same. The only one I’ve even heard of is Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker, mainly because his name is so long. He’s actually been the team’s best field player. Also respectable has been Japanese import Hajime Hosogai, who like J-I-C-B has scored 3 times. Still, you could probably pick up his contract for a couple of kegs and some pretzels.

The offense is non-existant really. But what do you expect when their major move was to sign FSV Frankfurt forward Sascha Mölders? He’s certainly given major effort, and managed 4 goals, but he’s a 2.Liga forward. You may have also heard of German-Angolan Nando Rafael, who has bounced around and been totally ineffective here. Interesting enough, Augsburg did have journeyman Michael Thurk, who has been with several clubs, including Mainz and Frankfurt, and scored over 50 goals for Augsburg in the 2.Liga. (And I would guess around 130 in his pro career) Then when the club got promoted, they fired his ass. Seems a bit cruel on what would have been his swan song. But who knows, maybe he’s an asshole. However, he has insisted he’s a good Fugger and hasn’t signed for another team (and he’s be cheap, probably because he already can collect a pension).

So if you’re coach Jos Luhukay, what do you do? There is no money to buy reinforcements. You really can’t demand the players work harder, since they give everything. The fans back the team with every touch of the ball. I guess you hope that work rate allows you to grab a few points and the other teams suck more.

That’s not an unrealistic scenario, and indeed, it’s gotten Augsburg from hopeless to hopefull. But I would say the Fuggers should enjoy this season, because the most likely scenario is they’re going down.


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