End of an era: Thomas Schaaf left Werder Bremen, the club the coach had been at since joining as a youth player in 1972
End of an era: Thomas Schaaf left Werder Bremen, the club the coach had been at since joining as a youth player in 1972

Season Review: SV Werder Bremen

Bremen - Given that Werder Bremen's 2012/13 pre-season started out so promisingly, not least because of a victory over FC Bayern Munich in the Liga total! Cup, the subsequent roller-coaster campaign which saw them narrowly avoid the drop is all the more inexplicable.

Strong in attack, poor at the back

In the end, a side boasting talent such as , and failed to fulfill its potential, while one of the Bundesilga's longest partnerships, coach Thomas Schaaf and sporting director Klaus Allofs, disbanded, with both leaving the club - the former after more than 40 years of service.

Following the exodus of proven top-flight veterans including goalkeeper Tim Wiese (1899 Hoffenheim), Naldo (Wolfsburg) and Claudio Pizarro (Bayern) in the summer, a lack of experience certainly played a role in Bremen's downfall, which has arguably been years in the making. Captain Clemens Fritz remained and as a result became the squad's only potential starter over 30 for the four-time Bundesliga champions.

It proved a risky approach and one that backfired when it came to defensive duties, as Bremen conceded a staggering 66 times, with only Hoffenheim (67) being breached more frequently. Whilst Werder's undeniable potential and traditionally attack-minded philosophy was reflected in the 50 goals they scored - the sixth best haul in the top flight - their reliance on De Bruyne was clear for all to see.

Dip in form

A bright start to the season, in which Bremen collected five victories and two draws from their opening twelve encounters, soon petered out as the team's performances began heading into a downward spiral which culminated in a run of 13 consecutive encounters without a win.

However, survival was achieved despite that wretched patch of form, and now new head coach Robin Dutt faces the tough task of repairing the chinks in this Bundesliga heavyweight's armour. The former Leverkusen strategist not only has big shoes to fill following Schaaf's exit after 14 years at the helm, during which time the 51-year-old won the DFB Cup three times as well as the Bundesliga title in 2004, but he also has to contend with the loss of defensive stalwart Sokratis, who has agreed to join Borussia Dortmund.

Moving on

So where does Dutt go from here? Turning striker Nils Petersen's loan from FC Bayern into a permanent deal is certainly a step in the right direction as the club look to claw their way back to former glory. Furthermore, there is untapped potential in their squad, but perhaps most importantly, the faithful fans, who never turned their backs on the team despite the slump, remain forcibly behind their side.

Michael Reis