Werder Bremen are a club that has seen better days. At the turn of the millennium, Die Werderaner were an ever-present fixture in the top half of the table. From 2000/01 to 2011/12, Werder finished in the top-half 11 out of 13 seasons, while finishing sixth or better eight times, including being crowned champions in 2003/04, and runner-up in 2005/06 and 2007/08. They are since far removed from such consistency.
In the years since 2012/13, Bremen have only cracked the top-half of the table once, two seasons ago with a credible eighth-place finish. Talented players have come and gone but Werder just can never seem to get it right. Much like Stuttgart, Werder struggled to find consistent sources of goals, with only five other clubs finding the back of the net on fewer occasions. While finishing 11th last term is far from catastrophic, mid-table purgatory seems to be the commonplace order of the day at the Weserstadion.
Managerial Background – Florian Kohfeldt
After a difficult start to life in 2017/18, Werder dismissed Alexander Nouri and appointed current manager Florian Kohfeldt as interim manager; they would go on to name him head coach on November 10th.
Possessing the football instructor license of the DFB, Kohfeldt calls upon his wealth of experience in managing throughout the Bremen system, first starting with the under-17’s in 2009, moving up the chain to his current position.
Under the charge of the Siegen-native, Bremen turned around a winless start (which lasted till mid-November) under Nouri into halfway decent form to round out the first half of the campaign. A brilliant second-half of the season would follow with Werder only tasting defeat on four occasions in the league, while also making an appearance in the quarter-finals of the DFB-Pokal.
With a knack for adapting the shape of his team and showing tactical flexibility, Kohfeldt exhibits the ability to get the best out of what he must work with; a trait that he must continue to rely on as Werder look for greener pastures this coming season.
A blend of youth and experience sums up Bremen’s summer dealings. Four players were brought into the first-team set-up from either Bremen II or the under-19’s, including Josh Sargent, Luca Plogmann, and Jean-Manuel Mbom. Jan-Niklas Beste (19) and Felix Beijmo (20) were also brought into the fold via the market, while headline signing Davy Klaassen returned to the continent in a bid to reinvigorate a career that blossomed at Ajax yet stalled at Everton.
Additional signings in veterans Martin Harnik and Claudio Pizarro, as well as Yuya Osako from relegated FC Köln, can give the supporters a reason to feel optimistic.
Such was Werder’s form in the second-half of the season that maybe will not only tip them as a near shoe-in for finishing mid-table, but some have suggested they could very well have an outside shot at challenging for the Europa League places.
There may be difficulties in finding the right blend of youth and experience, but this is certainly a club who, if they can string multiple seasons in a row of progression not just in the table but in their level of play, their cadre of young players are certainly good enough to help them push on. Right now, it’s all about stability.
Probable XI (4-3-3)
Pavlenka – Gebre Selassie, Veljkovic, Moisander, Augustinsson – Bargfrede, Eggestein, Klaassen – Kainz, Rashica, Kruse.
By Andrew Thompson.