Kaiserslautern, currently 18th (last) in the Bundesliga, on a win-less run of 17 competitive games spanning back to their DFB Pokal game away at Eintracht Frakfurt on 26/10/11 (That's nearly 5 months) have finally sacked Marco Kurz after their 4-1 defeat at home to Schalke on Sunday. It's fair to say that Kaiserslautern have easily been the worst side in the Bundesliga since day one, with decent results against Mainz 3-1 (H), Schalke 2-1 (A) and more surprisingly Dortmund 1-1 (A). 3 wins in 21 games is awful by any standard. The trend, particularly away from home was attempting to grind out goalless draws and going for the win at home; but evidently the home games turned sour when their defence was undone by most teams and ending up with no points at all.
This is a huge contrast to last season where Die roten Teufel (The Red Devils) finished a very respectable 7th with 13 wins, 7 draws and 14 losses. The new manager is Krasimir Balakov, one of the best Bulgarian players of his generation after the world-famous Hristo Stoichkov (part of Johan Cruyff's 'Dream Team'). He appeared 92 times for his country and was part of the team that came 4th in the 1994 World Cup. He has also had experience in the Bundesliga both as a player and assistant manager with VfB Stuttgart, winning with DFB Pokal and coming runner up in the league. As a player he had an offer from Kaiserslautern but opted to join Stuttgart instead. His experience as a manager isn't exactly brilliant, but for one, he's only 45 and his record in recent years is very impressive following spells with Chernomorets (Bulgaria) and a more well-known Hajduk Split where he had a streak of only 3 losses in 23 games.
I think his experience with playing and having a coaching role in the Bundesliga will help with trying to progress Kaiserslautern up the table in the coming months; he has also worked with Christian Tiffert at Stuttgart so this is an advantage with helping the team gel and have a positive attitude throughout the camp.
Balakov's press conference was impressive and promising: He said he felt that his previous experience as a coach made him ready to step up to the plate as a manager in a top league environment. His approach to the game as a manager is generally attacking but he also stated that it is "aligned aggressively" with the situation in hand; his tactical approach will vary depending on opponent and environment, how it should be. he said the team has a lot of potential and is well behind where it is capable of being. His primary focus is the next opponent (Freiburg) and getting the basics right and building from there. He was asked if he would stay with 1. FCK if they were to be relegated, he said that he "doesn't want to think about relegation, but if we ended up there of course I would stay." In my opinion, he is a very good appointment for The Red Devils and I'm sure relegation will not be an option in his mind.
I think the squad has the ability to stay up they just need someone to stabilise and to promote a more attacking style of play. Focus and determination are the core points to address to the squad and everyone knows that they have some of the best fans in Europe with their last match against Schalke selling out with a full-capacity attendance of 49,780 watching them fall further from grace. I suppose the future can only be positive, here's hoping a positive next few months...