“Thirteen defeats in 14 games, break the cycle”… the last words of the manager who led ‘second division to first UCL’
Poor results led to the coach’s departure, but it was a beautiful send-off.
Union Berlin recently parted ways with head coach Urs Fischer. The club announced on its website on Friday that “Berlin is ending its association with coach Fischer. Union president Dirk Zingler and coach Fischer agreed to this decision in a private conversation on Monday afternoon.”
Berlin has been on an incredible run in the Bundesliga in recent years. With a history of being a “club built on blood,” Union Berlin is an iconic East Berlin club. After years in the lower leagues, the club began to rise in the 2018-19 season, winning promotion in 2019-20 and joining the top flight for the first time.
They’ve been making waves every season, reaching their peak last season. With 11 wins and six draws, they became the only team in the top five leagues to go unbeaten at home, finishing fourth in the league and punching their ticket to the UEFA Champions League (UCL) for the first time in their history. In a nod to the history of pre-unification Germany, while the Bundesliga’s major clubs are clustered in the West, Berlin’s rise in the East has been unique.
Berlin overhauled their roster during the summer transfer window. They sold a number of existing players and brought in a mix of new faces, including Leeds United’s Brendan Erlandson, Germany international Robin Goesens, and AS Monaco’s Kevin Polland. With a wealth of resources at their disposal, they started the season confidently with a view to qualifying for the Champions League for the first time.
They opened with a frightening start. Berlin faced Lee Jae-sung’s Mainz and thrashed them 4-1. Kevin Verens scored a hat-trick and saved two penalties in a performance that completely dominated Mainz. The second round match against Darmstadt followed, with the same 4-1 scoreline.
But that was it. Starting in the third round against Leipzig, Berlin went on a losing streak. Without even a draw, they lost nine games in the league. The same happened in the DFB Pokal and Champions League. In the Champions League, they finished last in their group with one draw and three losses in four games. In all recent competitions, Berlin has a dismal record of one win, one draw, and 13 losses in 14 games.
Despite the extended slump, Berlin continued to put their faith in Fischer. After first taking the helm in July 2018, he led the club to an unprecedented turnaround in their history. But with the club slipping to the bottom of the league and unable to stem the tide, the club eventually opted to part ways.
However, the parting wasn’t all doom and gloom. Berlin released Fischer’s final words on the club’s social media accounts on Saturday. “Thank you all. I wish you well. Above all, I want to break this negative cycle. Everything I’ve experienced here so far has been ridiculous. I’m grateful for what I’ve been through. It’s going to be a part of my life,” he said in his farewell.