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Sports

Opinion: Bremen story a lesson for entire season

The way that Bremen fans rallied behind their team provided an upbeat ending to a season that had many Bundesliga followers griping and moaning. Jefferson Chase sees that as an example of the power of staying positive.

Last night I met up with two friends of mine from Bremen who were, in every sense of the word, intoxicated. When I congratulated them on their team avoiding relegation thanks to Papy Djilobodji's goal in the dying minutes, they just let out bellows of glee akin to the sounds I imagine a wolf would emit upon discovering a fresh buffalo carcass while mating with a particular attractive member of the opposite sex.

Djilobodji stumbling heroics were not only a final highlight in a season that, frankly, hasn't been all that long on them. It was also part of an object lesson.

It's a cliché to say that fans can be a team's twelfth man, but there's no other way to describe what happened in Bremen. With things looking grim in mid-April, supporters decided that it was more productive to get behind their team rather than express their discontent.

The movement was named the "green and white wonderwall" after the Oasis song, which Bremen fans belted out at every opportunity during live matches. Supporters frenetically cheered their own team and hurled abuse at opponents when the busses arrived at the Weserstadion for home matches.

The initiative was a bit like the band - kitschy, proudly low-brow and with plenty of mass appeal. By contrast, the mood among supporters of Frankfurt and Stuttgart, Bremen's competitors in the battle to beat the drop, had all the doom and gloom of a Radiohead record.

Pessimism may make for better music, but optimism is a far superior mode for football supporters. Bremen's wonderwall worked, boosting the morale of squad that - on paper at least - probably didn't deserve to stay in the first division. And morale made the difference in a battle that ultimately came done to a single goal. Rarely has the power of positive thinking been demonstrated more conclusively.

That's an attitude that Bundesliga fans could profitably extend to the entire season. Sure, Bayern ran away with the title for the fourth straight time. Admittedly, most supporters aren't thrilled at the prospect of RB Leipzig joining the top flight. But there were a lot of good storylines in 2015-16. Hoffenheim being saved by a coach that was younger than some of players, for instance. Or the "eighth wonder of the world" Darmstadt showing that a team with a tiny budget and a decrepit-looking stadium could hold their own with the big boys.

When all is said and done, football is a game, nothing more and nothing less. And life is too short to do anything but enjoy it.

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