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Finke’s lineage still strong at Freiburg

To use a hackneyed expression it’s all gone Pete Tong at SC Freiburg. Bottom of the table at the Winter Break, listed with another booted out for a breach of club discipline and now, the southern German club have taken the extremely uncommon decision, for them at least, to sack their coach, Marcus Sorg, mid-season.

The year old Sorg’s appointment was consistent with Freiburg’s previous hire, in that they promoted from within. Sorg’s predecessor, Robin Dutt, had replaced long time coach Volker Finke in 2007 and the club’s sporting director, Dirk Dufner, wasted no time in sticking to that policy with the appointment Sorg’s replacement, Christian Streich. SCF are a club in a hurry and at least having made the decision swiftly, Streich has the bulk of the Winter Break to prepare for the second half of the season and work on bringing some new faces into the squad.

The decision to sack Sorg suggests a conviction that the club’s foundations are strong but that their choice of head coach was incorrect or ill timed. Having said that there is no doubt that Sorg had his work cut out for him when he took up the reins, last Summer. For one there is the weight of history to carry. Freiburg is the beneficiary of a legacy left by Volke Finke who managed the club for sixteen years. SCF were a serial second tier club up until his arrival in 1991 (when SCG were in the Bundesliga South division). In 1993 he got the club in to the first division. There they stayed until 2005 with the exception of two relegation seasons in which they bounced back straight away. Their third relegation proved to be Finke’s last as on that occasion they failed to return. Robin Dutt, Finke’s assistant, took over in 2007 and after three near misses, the club returned to a league that, despite their modest size, had become their natural habitat. Under Dutt’s stewardship, SC Freiburg have retained their top flight status, for two seasons.

When Dutt left for Bayer Leverkusen, he took central defender Omer Toprak with him. A key player who has been missed. Indeed, the only significant signing to help bolster the squad was Garra Dembele, a striker from Levski Sofia. If you follow the axiom that playing squads need to be reinforced and refreshed then Sorg received little help. Perhaps it is no surprise then that Freiburg’s form has been wretched with only three wins in the first half of the season. That kind of form is likely to get any coach the sack, even one with such a strong connection with the club as Marcus Sorg.

Christian Streich, like Sorg and Dutt were coaches under Finke and it is understandable that they appoint from within. One can only imagine the difficulties in bringing a coach in from the outside, especially mid season, both to the club and the new coach. If Freiburg are relegated at the end of this season then Streich will be given time in the Second Bundesliga to get them back into the top flight. Dufner is banking on Finke’s lineage being strong enough without having to make radical (not to mention expensive) changes to the coaching structure by bringing in outsiders.

SCF’s return to action on 21st January could not be more tasty. Their opening game is a relegation six pointer with Bundesliga first timers, Augsburg. Central to Streich’s plan for a revival are Papiss Demba Cisse who has scored nine goals this season and at the back, Oliver Baumann in goal who is one of Germany’s more underrated goalkeepers. Look out also for Jan Rosenthal who has struggled with injury but scored on his return to the first team against Dortmund on Matchday 17. His experience, battling against the drop with his previous club, Hannover 96, will be invaluable.

Of equal importance is whether the five transfer listed players can be shifted of the wage bill and replacement brought in during the January transfer window. All being well, the club will start that big game against Augsburg with a refreshed squad and a renewed purpose. Anything less could spell trouble for the club from the Black Forest.

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