Cologne right in the middle: The worst Bundesliga season starts
One point from seven games: 1. FC Köln’s haul this season is historically poor. Steffen Baumgart knows this position all too well. But what happened to the teams that started so badly or even worse?
Weak start – and then? Luca Waldschmidt (2023), Günter Brocker (1967), Karim Bellarabi (2013/14, from left).
After all, no team has ever finished with zero points after seven games. But 1. FC Köln has come dangerously close to this scenario in the still fresh 2023/24 Bundesliga season. Five of the eleven worst starts so far even ended up in relegation – a quick overview.
Weakest start: One point, goal difference -15
Eintracht Braunschweig with coach Torsten Lieberknecht appeared in the upper house for the first time in 28 years in 2013/14 – and was initially overwhelmed. After a 4-0 defeat against Stuttgart, the score was 3:18 goals and one point after seven games. Although their first win followed on matchday 8, the Lions only left last place for one weekend.
Second weakest start: One point, goal difference -14
In each of the last two seasons, one club stumbled noticeably weakly, but the outcome was different: While SpVgg Greuther Fürth had no chance due to a few summer departures in 2021 and was relegated last in 2022, VfL Bochum managed after Thomas Reis’ move Thomas Letsch made a spectacular comeback and reached 14th place in the table in 2023. the finish line.
This also applies to FC Schalke 04, which got stuck in the starting blocks in 1967/68 – and in the end even confidently celebrated staying in the league. After Karl-Heinz Marotzke had to leave in mid-November, things quickly improved under his successor Günter Brocker. Curiously, Brocker started the season on the Werder Bremen sidelines – and lost his job early after three defeats in three games.
Fifth weakest start: One point, goal difference -13
It hasn’t been that long since 1. FSV Mainz 05’s catastrophic start to the 2020/21 season. Under the coaches Achim Beierlorzer and Jan-Moritz Lichte, the Rheinhessen lost all of their first six games. It was only with Bo Svensson that we caught up at the turn of the year, which even resulted in 12th place.
1. FC Köln, with its long-time successful coach Peter Stöger and sports director Jörg Schmadtke, also had the same weak record after seven games in 2017/18. The separation of both and the signing of Stefan Ruthenbeck shortly after Christmas didn’t help much: the billy goats were relegated last.
Seventh weakest start: One point, goal difference -12
Five Bundesliga games, five defeats: Heinz Elzner’s time as head coach of 1. FC Nürnberg was quickly over. When Udo Klug took over at the beginning of September 1981, the wind changed – so much so that the club reached 13th place and, incidentally, also reached the final of the DFB Cup (2:4 against Bayern Munich).
Eighth weakest start: One point, goal difference -11
When the Bundesliga was launched in 1963/64, 1. FC Saarbrücken didn’t seem to be quite ready. The Saarlanders with coach Helmut Schneider held 16th and last place from matchday 7 until the end of the season: that meant relegation in the premiere season. It was only twelve years later that he returned to the upper house.
Ninth weakest start: One point, goal difference -10
Similar to Eintracht Braunschweig in 2013 and SpVgg Greuther Fürth in 2021, two other smaller teams have been in a losing battle from the start in recent years. Newly promoted SC Paderborn started 2019, as did FC Ingolstadt 2016, with one point from seven games, but both never managed to get over the infamous line during the course of the season.
By the way, the coach in Paderborn at the time: Steffen Baumgart. Ebenjener knows the situation he is currently in with 1. FC Köln very well. His current club too: in 1992/93 – after one point and 5:15 goals – the turnaround was achieved under Jörg Berger, who then had to leave in February. With Wolfgang Jerat, the Billy Goats even came twelfth.