Can the Bundesliga compete against the English premier league ?

The summer transfer season closed yesterday, and money exchanged hands between clubs and agents. Based on the trends so far, the English premier league seem to dominate the transfers with lots of money to buy players. The value of players have risen so fast that many clubs in the Bundesliga are still playing catch up.

The newly found purchasing power of the premier league is based on the TV marketing deal worth over 10 Billion Euros from 2016 for three years.It is three times the amount of the Bundesliga. Stoke city will earn more in TV rights than FC Bayern Munich.

The notable transfers was the move from Wolfsburg to Manchester city by Kevin De Bruyne for 75 million euros, Abdul Rahman Baba from FC Augsburg to Chelsea for 25 million euros, or Heung Min Son from Bayer Leverkusen to Tottenham for 30 million euros.

Interestingly, Kevin De Bruyne’s move from Wolfsburg, is the highest transfer fee in the history of the Bundesliga. The former record was held by Firminho who moved from Hoffenheim to Liverpool some time ago.

Given the huge money at stake, can the Bundesliga compete against the English premier league ? Is the premier league,the new Mecca for football players ?

To answer the pertinent questions, one should look at the structure of the Bundesliga model compared to the EPL.In the Bundesliga, there are no money bags or Sheiks buying clubs because of the 50+1 rule,which makes it almost impossible for an outsider to have majority stakes in a club.

Along the line, there have been exception in the 50+1 rule on three occasions in the Bundesliga.They are Bayer Leverkusen is owned by Bayer, Volkswagen owns Wolfsburg, and Dietmar Hopp owns Hoffenheim.

Despite the dominance of Sky in Germany as a pay TV station, the number of subscribers is minute in comparison to the UK.Football in Germany, is still a volkssport that has not lost it’s roots.

Felix Magath thinks the 50+1 rule is outdated.He claims the entry of investors will not ruin the Bundesliga.He wrote in his column for Kölner express and Hamburger Morgenpost:”even when the truth hurts, our elite league can not keep up with England.”

The big clubs in the Bundesliga watch as their talents are scuttled away to the EPL.To stem the tide, there is already a quarrel between the Deutsche Fussball liga (DFL) and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge over the TV marketing in the Bundesliga.Rummenigge suggested marketing the TV rights individually as against the present norm of central marketing.He is of the opinion that FC Bayern will get more money.However, DFL boss,Klaus Filbry is against it.

If the Bundesliga clubs can intensify their scouting abilities and sell to EPL clubs for a high amount later, it is a win-win situation for everybody.

Felix Magath comes up with a novel idea.

Felix Magath

Felix Magath is not new to controversial ideas about revamping the Bundesliga. This time, in an interview with Hamburger morgenpost,he spoke about the dominance of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga.

He said,”the clubs that are always in the Champions league have huge advantages. Actually, they need to be removed from national competitions. A European league would be ideal.” He thinks the earnings from the European top competition creates an unfair competitive advantage for the big clubs. Thereby creating a scenario that is prevalent in Spain, Italy, and England.

Magath does not see an end to the dominance of Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga as number one. He is of the opinion that the second and third spots belong to Dortmund and Leverkusen respectively.The fourth position could go to any club in the Bundesliga.

What do you guys think about his novel idea of excluding the top teams from competing in national competitions ? Will it make the league more egalitarian ? I do not think so.

Image courtesy of the Guardian.

Felix Magath leads VFL Wolfsburg to mediocrity.

What does it take to be in the starting line up for VFL Wolfsburg on match day is still a mystery that only Felix Magath knows. The team has seen a fair number of rotations.

It has led to insecurity among the players and it shows in the style of play. The players do not play from a position of strength anymore and critics are beginning to wonder, if Magath is the right man for the job.

Take Patrick Helmes, who was banned from the team not so long ago by Magath. Only to be reactivated in the second half of the season. The reason given by Magath for his initial axing was poor commitment to training.

Likewise,Mario Mandzukic, who is the highest goal getter this season for Wolfsburg, was not on the bank in the humiliating defeat to Hoffenheim on Saturday.

Felix Magath popularly known as Qualix because of his tough training methods has become a player agent’s dream of a manager. In Wolfsburg, money is in abundant supply. And Magath has invested heavily in buying players without success on the league table.

The goals of Volkswagen, the financier of Wolfsburg to play in the European league can not be reached this season. Rather, they have settled for mediocrity.

Alarm bells are not ringing yet from the top echelon of VFL Wolfsburg. But how long will the fans confront a team that has no clear cut pattern of play or identity ?

Felix Magath sacked but the drama is not over in Schalke.

The sack of Felix Magath as coach and manager of Schalke 04 put an end to weeks of speculation that all is not well in Schalke. Felix Magath replied through his lawyer,Ralf Höcker,that they are not aware of the sack. Hours later,Magath officially announced his resignation from Schalke 04.

The antecedents from the statements of Schalke and Felix Magath indicate a bitter divorce that might end in court. Schalke accuse Magath of transfer irregularities while Magath believe he did not do anything wrong. At stake is the financial compensation for Felix Magath which is put at 12 million Euros.

Magath came to Schalke with a mission to win the Bundesliga. In his first year, they finished second behind Bayern Munich. This season they are placed 10th in the league with the expectation of wining the FA cup. They also qualified for the quarter final of the champions league. He achieved modest success with Schalke.

The crisis between Magath and the supervisory board of Schalke has a lot to with the management style of Felix Magath. Peter Neururer put it bluntly when he said,“the things that Felix Magath destroyed as manager could not be repaired by Felix Magath as coach.”

Schalke 04 is a club with tradition but Magath could not identify closely with the club. He learned under coaches like Ernst Happel and Branko Zebec to be at arm’s length with his players and fans. His last-minute attempt to use Facebook to communicate with the fans was semi succesful.

In the coming days, i hope Schalke and Magath can settle their differences in peace.

Meanwhile, Ralf Rangnick is back to Schalke as coach. I wish him goodluck.

Schalke thrashed in Kaiserslautern. Felix Magath is not amused.

How can one explain the current performance of schalke in the Bundesliga ? They are top in the champions league but flop in the Bundesliga. Their last match against Kaiserslautern in Betzenberg was a 0-5 humilation by Kaiserslautern.

The champions league may be the zenith of football but the Bundesliga is the height of egalitarianism. There are no longer big or small teams. Schalke has learnt a bitter lesson.

The last time Schalke lost by 0-5 margin was 19 years ago against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Felix Magath, the manager of Schalke is disappointed at the performance of the team. He said,”it is not explainable how a team that played in the champions league with only a change of position,three days later perform so poorly.” He promised there would be consequences. Already he has shortened the christmas holiday of the players.

Manuel Neuer, the goalkeeper who picked the ball five times from the net has already sound alarm bells. He said,”if we play every game like this, we would be relegated.”

Magath is under pressure to take drastic actions to avoid a repeat performance next time. A look at their next opponents in the league are no push over. Schalke will play against Bayern Munich, Mainz and Cologne.

Schalke fans are losing their patience. Some fans on saturday were already calling for “Magath raus”(Magath must go)

Marco Kurz, the manager of Kaiserslautern complemented his players for a wonderful performance, “we played with so much passion and heart.”

History will judge Magath, if his Wolfsburg model will ultimately work in Schalke. Sadly,time is not on his side.

FC Bayern rebound to limelight as they head for champions league final.

When FC Bayern, the newly crowned bundesliga champions and FA cup winners lock horns with Inter Milan in the champions league final this weekend, it will mark the return of the German club in the finals since 2001.

Bayern is on a mission to be the first German team to win three titles in a season.

It was not so long ago that Bayern had to play catch-up not only in the bundesliga, but in Europe as a whole. Juergen Klinsmann, was sacked before the end of last season after a disastrous reign as manager. Jupp Heynckes, was hurriedly appointed to guide the team on an ad hoc basis.

Pundits began to wonder about the relevance of FC Bayern in the scheme of things. Even Felix Magath, believed that the dominance of FC Bayern is gone. He posited that since there was no continuity in the team, it will take the new manager time to establish his football philosophy.

Louis Van Gaal, had some teething problems when he came to Bayern this season. Bayern management gave him time to get his acts together. Louis Van Gaal, was able to establish his football philosophy of attractive football.

The players believed in him, and vice versa. Louis Van Gaal, became the first Holland manager to win the bundesliga.

Louis Van Gaal might crown a wonderful season as the manager of Bayern, if Bayern bring the champions league trophy to Saebener street in Munich. It will be a good reason to celebrate again because according to him, “i am a party animal.”

Uli Hoeness, can not wait to tell anybody who care to listen that FC Bayern is back!

It is crunch time in Bundesliga.

Who will be the Bundesliga champions this season ? It is a question followers of German football league have been asking. The top contenders for the title are Schalke 04 and FC Bayern Munich. Both teams are tied with 64 points. Bayern is presently in pole position because of superior goals difference.

Schalke manager, Felix Magath is confident,“Bayern will not win the remaining two matches.” Uli Hoeness,FC Bayern Munich president countered, “ they are trailing behind us and only hope that we stumble.”

As usual the Bundesliga is exciting because anything can happen. It is crunch time.

The remaining two matches for Bayern are against VFL Bochum and Hertha BSC. Bochum and Hertha are battling against relegation. They are not willing to go down without a fight. Time will tell if both matches would be easy as Arjen Robben, opined that Bayern needs to win both matches and they are champions.

Schalke will face Werder Bremen and 1.FSV Mainz 05. Bremen will try to defend their present third place when they play in Gelsenkirchen. Mainz 05, definitely aim to round up a good season under manager,Thomas Tuchel, at home against Schalke.

Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund and VFB Stuttgart have their eyes set for Europe league.

On another note, Hamburg, sacked Bruno Labbadia yesterday. Hamburg lost woefully against Hoffenheim 1-5 last weekend. It was clear after the match that Labbadia had to go. Dieter Matz, a Hamburg expert, believes the players do not have an alibi anymore. Labbadia is gone but the problems remain the same.

Hamburg is a team without consistency in leadership both on and off the field. May be they should take a cue from next door neighbor St.Pauli. Holger Stanislawski, the manager of St. Pauli is a symbol of stability. St.Pauli look poised to play in the Bundesliga next season.

It is a given that Kaiserslautern are back in the Bundesliga. The other teams have to wait for at least one more match to know their fate.

VEHLIX is history at VFL Wolfsburg.

The competence of a manager in a competitive league like the Bundesliga is not accessed by mere intentions or rhetoric of the manager alone. Rather, a cocktail of numerous factors like execution of the manager’s football philosophy on the green grass in combination with the league table as yardstick.

Armin Veh, who was dubbed Vehlix at the start of this season as manager of VFL Wolfsburg because of his triple function as manager,general manager and CEO à la Felix Magath(his predecessor) is the latest casualty of uninspiring football. Wolfsburg, who were Bundesliga champions last season are currently placed 10th. For Volkswagen, the official sponsors of Wolfsburg, the team is too mediocre and a far cry from the mission to put Wolfsburg on the international football map as a force to be reckoned with.

Veh, had the misfortune of constantly living in the shadow of Felix Magath. He came to Wolfsburg to continue from where his predecessor stopped. There was no radical change in the team structure. The maxim that never change a winning team might be true but for Veh, it was disaster. Most of the players who won the league last season stayed in Wolfsburg because of fantastic contracts that were offered. Sadly, this season, top players like Diego Benaglio, Edin Dzeko,Zvejzdan Misimovic or Grafite are unexciting.

VFL Wolfsburg defense has so far conceded 38 goals in 19 games. The defense is piss-poor There is no stability in defense. The players playing defense keep changing with every game. It has led to insecurity in the players approach to the game.

Equally disheartening is the integration of the new arrivals to the club.Karim Ziani, is still trying to find his feet. Obafemi Martins, is good but he is still a work in progress. Thomas Kahlenberg, is recovering from injury. The players costs millions. As general manager, CEO and manager, Veh, is responsible for the flop signings.

Recently,VFL Wolfsburg, appointed Dieter Hoeness, a veteran Bundesliga general manager to help relieve Veh of his triple functions. Unfortunately, it did not save his job. Wolfsburg lost to Cologne last weekend 3-2. It was Hoeness, who annouced Monday the termination of Veh’s contract. The project Vehlix is history at Wolfsburg, six months after it began. A new manager will be announced soon. In the interim, Lorenz-Günther Köstner is expected to take charge of affairs.

Raphael Honigstein, posits that “Wolfsburgs’s fall from grace seems to confirm a suspicion from Veh’s VfB Stuttgart days: the 48-year-old is the perfect manager for a side on a good run but neither stringent nor hard working enough to succeed in more difficult circumstances.” It is not far from the truth. However, like TAZ concludes, “the question for him is, how does his failure at Wolfsburg affects his reputation in the branch and for his future chance in the job market.” Definitely, i do not expect him to walk in the footsteps of Felix Magath in another club.

VFL Wolfsburg is in dire straits. Hoeness, is expected to guide the club. SZ cynically writes, “….the club must look for a manager, who must be strong enough to walk away from the shadow of Felix Magath. And also strong enough to fulfill the expectations of the global cooperation, Volkswagen. Football made by Volkswagen-there are not so many candidates.”

Veh, the manager from Augsburg, is very good at reinventing himself. Do not be surprised to see him in the headlines again. Hopefully, with a positive twist.

Is green penalty card the penacea for fairness in soccer ?

Soccer continue to attract calls for reform. Proponents of reform, argue that the game needs fair rules. A new voice for fairness and accountability in soccer is the successful Bundesliga coach, Felix Magath. He has suggested a novel idea of issuing green penalty card in soccer.

In an article for Hamburger Abendblatt sometime last year, Magath said, “i have been calling for a green card in addition to yellow and red cards for years. The card should signal punishment but not exclusion from playing the game.” He also suggested fines for a player as consequence from the green card. He is of the opinion that the card will punish an individual player who infringe against the rules of the game, without the whole team or the club bearing the brunt of the punishment. Magath, explains that other advantages of the green card, could be the establishment of a bit fairness. He added, “a wrong call in soccer can destroy existences. Coaches are sacked after losing games, teams are relegated or not. Often we find out afterwards that a yellow or red card was excessive or in other situations, not issued.”

Ken Aston, is credited to be the referee that thought about language neutral colored cards in soccer, based on the principles of the traffic light. In the 1970 FIFA world cup in Mexico, yellow penalty card to denote caution and red penalty card for expulsion was introduced. Magath’s idea will lead to a complete use of traffic light colors with the green penalty card.

The debate about fairness in soccer will not go away any time soon. But Magath’s novel idea is a breath of fresh air. My only fear is that individual players could be easily stigmatized. Also, the game might lose it’s collective structure as a team sport. There is a written codex among players in soccer that they win and lose together. What happens to team spirit ?

Let the debate begin.

Muslims protest against Schalke 04 Song.

Muslims are not amused over a Schalke 04 song with reference to Prophet Mohammed. The club song titled “White and Blue, How I Love You”, made reference in the third verse to Prophet Mohammed as follows, “Mohammed was a Prophet who doesn’t understand football but from all the beautiful colours he came up with blue and white.”

The song has been in existence since 1924. All Schalke 04 fans closely identify with the song. Even Felix Magath had to learn the song as part of his orientation.

Schalke 04 management takes the protest seriously. It is a good sign that they are not insensitive to the protests.

However, many people are curious why the sudden reaction to a song that is age old. A plausible answer might be ” the mounting resentment in Germany’s Muslim community after politicians were slow to condemn the murder of an Egyptian woman in a court in eastern Germany about a month ago.”

Muslims and Schalke fans need to seek a common ground to solve the impasse.