Even though it had been virtually clear since Wednesday, today marks the day that Nuremberg and Anderlecht agreed on a fee for René Weiler. He is now no longer the Nuremberg skipper. For roughly 19 months the Swiss was the Club’s manager. We wonder what his legacy is at the end of the 586 days of Weiler.
Is it the impression of the almost incredible 18 game unbeaten run between October and April last season? Or is it the sobering failure of the relegation play-off against Frankfurt in which the team remained without a shot on target for 180 minutes? Is it the much lauded tongue-lashing he gave parts of the media about how they handled the case of Frankfurt defender Marco Russ who had been diagnosed with a tumor on the eve of the relegation play-off? Or is it how his remarks after bad results could always be interpreted to blame the player’s abilities rather than his tactics? Is it the fact that he was victorious in the power struggle against former CEO and sporting director Martin Bader? Or is it that he is leaving Nuremberg in the middle of the club’s restructuring efforts? Is it the fact that no other 21st century FCN manager achieved more points on average? Or is it the very pragmatic, rarely entertaining style of play?
Both lines of interpretation are valid, because Weiler’s time in Nuremberg offers enough ammunition for both sides of the aisle. There will be those that pragmatically look at the results and say: 2015-16 was the best season the Club has ever achieved in the second division, no coach since Felix Magath was better in the points average department; ergo: Weiler is a good manager. His team had an almost impeccable record at home against sides that were later promoted (3 wins, 1 draw), especially when playing teams who were better in pure footballing terms Weiler found a way to make his team succeed at home. His supporter can point to the face that Weiler managed to find exactly those players that fit perfectly to achieve the highest success possible and that this core of players showed cohesion, solidarity and team spirit not found every day in professional sports. In order to achieve this, it can be argued, a manager’s excellent leadership abilities are needed. Backers can also point to bold personnel decision such as making inexperienced youngster Patrick Erras into the team at a time when the squad was hardly clicking and making him a key player or turning Dutch central defender Dave Bulthuis, who had been regarded as a failure into a first team regular.
However, other players could be pointed out to question Weiler’s leadership skills. For more than a year he failed to integrate former Second Division top scorer Jakub Sylvestr into his system and mercilessly relegated several unwanted players into the second team. Robert Koch, who was a regular under predecessor Valerien Ismael and whose salary is speculated to be around 500k €, had to train and play with the reserve team that plays fourth division football. Dealing with the legal fallout of that decision – Koch had sued against his demotion – was the first task for new CEO and sporting director Andreas Bornemann. The decision to not include Zoltan Stieber, Nuremberg’s only player at the ongoing Euro, in the 18-man-squad for the relegation playoffs can also be regarded as questionable. This playoff also demonstrated the tactical limitation of Weiler’s pragmatic approach. The style of play against Frankfurt was highly reactive, accepted the inadequacies of Nuremberg’s players and heavily relied on a tight defense. This attempt proved to be a miserable failure. This was especially true because the players lacked the power to achieve anything at all offensively. A reason for this could be found in the fact that Weiler failed to rotate his side during the regular season thereby offering few chances for regeneration.
Weiler himself will accept both interpretations. He never saw Nuremberg as the end of the line in his development as a manager. He always refrained from expressing any deep affection for club or fans or showing any excessive emotions at all, never offering promises that he knew could not be kept in professional football. In retrospect Nuremberg will therefore always be regarded as what he had always considered it himself: A stepping stone toward higher goals and other tasks. Higher goals like international football; something he finds with the Belgian record champions; tasks that could also prove highly risky. Weiler’s acceptance at Anderlecht will initially be fairly low. His name does not go together with the club’s self-image; especially since the fans were offered names such as Roberto Martinez, Paul Le Guen, Claude Puel, Remi Garde, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer or Enzo Scifo as potential manager by the media. Weiler usually struggled to find the players, tactics and formation he needed to be successful. He is not an instant miracle worker; he needs some time to make everything click. Time he was given in Nuremberg, time he will not be given in Belgium. RSC will start Champions League Qualification in five weeks. The first of potentially two rounds before reaching the group stage will pit them against PAOK Saloniki, AS Monaco, Steaua Bukarest, Young Boys Berne or FK Rostov. A failure there will increase doubts about Weiler, a rocky start to season – like the one he had with Nuremberg in 2015-16 – and it’s very likely he will slip on his stepping stone.
Weiler’s departure could also be a slip-up for Nuremberg. He is leaving the club in the middle of a big restructuring effort that encompasses all areas and departments of the club. This fact makes him leaving even more difficult because it increases the amount of restructuring need even further. Whether Weiler is leaving because his time at FCN has run its course and he sees no chance of improving on last year’s performance – as was alluded to in the local press – or because he is simply motivated by the prospect of international football, is a subject of debate. However the line of argumentation among many journalists shows as how difficult the situation is being perceived by outsiders. A situation that somewhat resembles the last voluntary departure of a Nuremberg coach around Christmas 2012. Then, Dieter Hecking left in the middle of the season to go to Wolfsburg. His style of play was also fairly successful but regarded as highly pragmatic and not very entertaining to watch. Then and now there was a chance for a positive development. Then this chance was squandered which led directly to relegation and the mess the club is in right now. A repeat performance after Weiler’s departure would most likely mean the end of the Club as we know it.
Die deutsche Version des Artikels findet sich hier: https://www.clubfans-united.de/2016/06/19/586-tage-weiler-was-bleibt/