Urs Fischer: 1. FC Union Berlin: The rude awakening from a pipe dream

Coach Urs Fischer and 1. FC Union Berlin are going their separate ways from now on.

Coach Urs Fischer and 1. FC Union Berlin are going their separate ways from now on.

Photo: imago/Matthias Koch

The endless horror was followed by horror: On Wednesday morning, 1. FC Union announced that they had amicably separated from their coach Urs Fischer. The news came as a surprise. Because despite the enormous sporting Crisis of the Köpenick footballers The successful coach received astonishingly great and unconditional support right up to the end. And not just from the fans, but also from the club. The only person who had publicly considered this step in recent weeks was Fischer himself. If he realized that he could no longer reach the team and lead it successfully, then it would be time to resign. That’s how it happened.

When Dirk Zingler entered the press room of the Alte Försterei in the early afternoon, a fleeting smile of greeting lit up his face. The rest was disappointment – ​​and more. “I was afraid of that day,” said Union President, describing his feelings. Although Zingler knew that this day of separation would come. “We had already made an appointment for it,” he said. Now the distant future is suddenly a reality – and the club is in a state of shock. The sudden end of the 1. FC Union’s most successful era took everyone by surprise.

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Zingler didn’t want to talk about Fischer’s “resignation,” probably out of respect. Because the Swiss are not people who run away from problems. “He wasn’t fired either,” explained Zingler, who continued to trust the coach and supported him “until the last second.” It was therefore only a “joint decision” in the sense that the President approved Fischer’s decision to end the cooperation. “The coach was allowed to decide the time.”

Urs Fischer was not seen. The decision was made on Monday, after a conversation with Zingler. This Thursday Fischer returns to Köpenick once again – for a farewell breakfast with the club management. The club conveyed the coach’s last words in a press release: »The last few weeks have taken a lot of energy. We tried a lot, the team put in a lot, but it didn’t pay off in results. I am very grateful for the trust that I have always felt here. Nevertheless, it feels right when a change happens now: sometimes a different face, a different way of addressing a team helps to trigger development.

It can hardly get any worse, and the fall cannot get any deeper for the time being. Union started the Bundesliga season as leaders with two wins, but has suffered nine defeats in a row crashed into the basement of the table. It was not yet clear on Wednesday who would carry out the turnaround. Together with the previous assistant coach Sebastian Bönig, Union’s U19 coach Marco Grote and Marie-Louise Eta the team. The 32-year-old is the first female assistant coach in the history of the Bundesliga.

Apart from such necessary immediate measures, according to Zingler, the club wants to “take time to process this”. Especially because the past five years have been “so emotional.” And successful. In a total of 224 competitive games, Urs Fischer led 1. FC Union from the 2nd league to the Champions League guided. It only went uphill: promotion, eleventh, seventh, fifth and fourth place in the first league as well as the European journey in the Conference League, the Europa League and finally the premier class. Fischer was voted “Trainer of the Year” in the summer, but now he’s gone. It’s a rude awakening from more than just a pipe dream. That’s probably why Zingler was already “afraid of the days afterward.” It’s good that the international match window has just opened and league operations are paused.

“The period after that begins on Monday,” announced the President. Then the preparation for the home game against FC Augsburg begins. The team, which was informed of Fischer’s departure on Wednesday morning, will probably have to wait a little longer for a new head coach. You need a careful decision-making process, said Zingler: “Without time pressure.”

The choice must be carefully considered. Because success bears the name Urs Fischer. On the one hand, he made many players better. Kevin Behrens, for example: Before the angular striker came to Köpenick, he had never played first division football, now he is a national player. The current team’s defense chief Robin Knoche and midfield strategist Rhani Khedira experienced a similarly good and hardly predictable development. And many players who had made a name for themselves at Union and left the club with the aim of improving themselves athletically or financially never found their great happiness again. Because it was Fischer’s demanding system that allowed players and therefore the club to shine in success.

How the crash happened? Dirk Zingler seems perplexed. »In recent years we didn’t always know how we won some games. Now we don’t know how we could lose some games.” As paradoxical as it may sound, maybe Oliver Ruhnert’s mistakes will help the new coach. In contrast to previous years, not a single newcomer made a real impact this season. But because the manager signed some players with higher individual quality than usual in the summer, probably with an eye on the Champions League, the new coach could benefit from this. In any case, they didn’t work in Fischer’s system.

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