Peter Stöger has called on Cologne bosses to either back him or sack him after their winless campaign so far. A trip to third-placed Schalke is the last thing Cologne need with their opponents on a high.Cologne coach Peter Stöger has acted with such dignity during his side’s failure to win a game in their first 13 matches of the Bundesliga season. But even stoic Austrians have limits and ahead of Saturday’s trip to in-form Schalke, he pleaded with the bottom club’s hierarchy to make his position clear.
“I could live with any decision but there has to be one,” Stöger said amid speculation he could be fired if they lose again.
“It would be important for me as well. But most important are the players and the staff. There is real insecurity there. This uncertainty is a far from ideal scenario.
“Clarity should be the top priority. It would be good to have clear statements because they provide security. You can’t feel this security at the moment.”
After a bungled transfer window where top striker Anthony Modeste was allowed to leave without being adequately replaced, sporting director Jörg Schmadtke carried the can for the dreadful start and quit.
It was a rare instance of a club official taking the rap instead of the coach after the club failed to give Stöger a squad which could compete domestically and in the Europa League after their surprise fifth-place finish last term heralded a first European adventure in 25 years.
But with Cologne no nearer to finding a replacement for Schmadtke after a bid to recruit Horst Heldt from Hannover failed, Stöger will be fretting that the January transfer window could also be a flop for the club.
Injury has also hit hard, meaning they had to start with 16-year-old debutant Yann Aurel Bisseck in the meek 2-0 home loss to Hertha Berlin last Sunday, which came just three days after beating Arsenal in the Europa League to give themselves a chance of the knockout round.
Stöger will hope for some returnees from the lengthy injury list and some luck in front of goal, with free transfer Claudio Pizarro and young French forward Sehrou Guirassy especially struggling against Hertha.
Schalke were struggling at 4-0 down at halftime of the Ruhr derby last weekend with their recent bubble looking like it would pop dramatically. But they stormed back after the break and Naldo’s injury-time header snatched a point after one of the most extraordinary Bundesliga matches ever played.
Borussia Dortmund’s ineptitude played its part but Schalke cannot fail to have taken huge confidence from such a fightback. Coach Domenico Tedesco also deserves credit for not going overboard with the hyperbole after the draw, with his post-match interviews remarkably calm and measured.
Leon Goretzka and Amine Harit, who both came on after just 33 minutes against Dortmund and helped engineer the turnaround – with Harit netting a goal – will be hoping for a starting berth against Cologne.
Elsewhere on matchday 14
– Under pressure Dortmund coach Peter Bosz desperately needs a win at Bayer Leverkusen to stop the rot after not winning in the league in six games and throwing away that 4-0 lead to draw 4-4 with Schalke. He will be without the injured Mario Götze.
– Bayern Munich boss Jupp Heynckes tasted defeat for the first time in his fourth spell at the club with last weekend’s reverse at Gladbach. He may be buoyed for the visit of Hanover though by Thomas Müller, Franck Ribery and Rafinha returning to full training.
– If there is a loser in Friday’s game between Freiburg and Hamburg, they will end up in the relegation playoff spot. Jan-Fiete Arp has been a revelation for Hamburg in recent weeks and should play after reports said the 17-year-old had received special dispensation to take part in an evening kickoff even though German law says minors can not do late shifts.
Matchday 14 fixtures
Freiburg vs. Hamburg (Friday, 20:30 CET)
Bayern Munich vs. Hanover (Saturday 15:30)
Hoffenheim vs. RB Leipzig
Werder Bremen vs. VfB Stuttgart
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Borussia Dortmund
Mainz vs. Augsburg
Schalke vs. Cologne (Saturday 18:30)
Hertha Berlin vs.Eintracht Frankfurt (Sunday, 15:30)
Wolfsburg vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (Sunday 18:00)