Winter break: 1. FC Nürnberg

15th place

Grade: D

Der Club is in trouble again. So what else is new? They are almost constantly struggling, but to their credit, just when you think they’re dead, they pull a rabbit out of the hat. After an OK start, they went down the stretch dropping 5 of 6, and you figured “OK, stick a fork in them, they’re done.” But then right before break, they travelled to Leverkusen and bitch-slapped the Aspirins 3-0, so they winter just above the relegation zone.

Goalkeeping has been a problem. Veteran captain Rafael Schäfer (32) has been pretty shaky. He’s split time with unknown Alexander Stephan (25), who’s been equally crap. Having a weak attack and being unreliable between the posts is not a good formula for success.

The defense is unexperienced, almost all in their early twenties. Argie Horacio Pinola (29) was supposed to help out and lend some veteran’s knowledge, but he’s been slowed by injuries. Philip Wollscheid (22) has shown promise. American Tim Chandler (21) has played regularily, but still needs seasoning. The same could be said for the others, as Nürnberg has tried a lot of players, including making Marvin Plattenhardt (19) a starter at times.

The midfield has been similarly challenged, except that there has been some veteran help here. Belgian DM Tim Simons (35) has struggled, but so has everyone else, including vet Markus Feulner (29). Lots have youngsters have been tried (10 different starters in midfield), but so far, none have really panned out.

The attack has been pretty pathetic. Tomas Pekhart has 4 goals, that’s about it.

Coach Dieter Hecking has a hard task ahead, and there’s a good chance Nürnberg will once again be going down. Der Club never has any money (almost going bankrupt a few years ago), so don’t expect much help in the transfer window, But Hecking has one thing going for him: the last two years he’s led FCN in the relegation playoffs…and they’ve won out in both years.



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