Even though Bremen didn't win their match against Darmstadt, and haven't posted a win in the past five weeks, coach Victor Skripnik remains at the helm. This is a good sign, writes Andreas Sten-Ziemons.
Yet again, it wasn't the desired result. At the end of a hard-fought battle against newly promoted Darmstadt, Werder Bremen rescued a single point through a last-minute goal from Claudio Pizarro. However, in view of a renewed self-confidence at Hoffenheim and a victory for cellar dwellars Hannover in Stuttgart, this single point clearly was not enough. The state of Bremen's relegation battle is more of a cause for concern following matchday 23 than it was two or three weeks ago. With 21 points, Werder are just three points above the automatic drop zone. Not just that, but at -19, the Green-and-Whites have a worse goal differential than all of their opponents.
Despite this precarious position, head coach Victor Skripnik need not worry about being sacked as Bremen continue struggle to make it to safety - at least not for now. After the final whistle, Skripnik and his boss, Bremen manager Thomas Eichin, marched off the Weser Stadium pitch arm in arm, in what almost looked like a demonstration of solidarity. The message: The Ukrainian, whose team hasn't won in five games, will keep his job.
It is the right decision to stay with Skripnik, not just because Werder's next Bundesliga game is on Wednesday, leaving precious little time to find a replacement. The 46-year-old Skripnik is a survivor. Whenever he appears to be close to getting the sack, somehow he manages to rescue himself with a good result or some unexpected success. This time, his chances don't look bad either, as his Werder travel to the BayArena in Leverkusen on Wednesday. It was there that Skripnik had his most recent resurrection of sorts, as he and his team beat the favored "Werkself," knocking them out of the German Cup. Why shouldn't they be able to beat Leverkusen again, given that the side has been worn down by the Europa League and injuries?
No more experiments
And why shouldn't they manage to avoid the drop? In Claudio Pizarro, a healthy Zlatko Junuzovic and the currently injured Clemens Fritz, Skripnik has players on his team that won't fall apart under the increasing pressure that they are being exposed to. If Skripnik, who has been known to unnecessarily dabble in experiments in the past, elects to use the tactics in which his team feels comfortable and which plays to their strengths, Bremen will go on to collect more points.
Not just that, but Skripnik has another ace up his sleeve. During the winter transfer window, Gerhard Tremmel, an experienced goalkeeper, was brought in as a backup to Felix Wiedwald, who has conceded 46 goals this season and hasn't always looked sure of himself between the sticks. Tremmel too is a player with a lot of experience who isn't bothered by pressure. Maybe it is time for Skripnik to give him a game - as a signal both to his players and the general public. Victor Skripnik will know which one is the right decision.