Nuremberg - For 1. FC Nuremberg, a season comes to an end which only really hit the news at the halfway point when, just before Christmas, long-term coach Dieter Hecking bade the club farewell.
Under his successor Michael Wiesinger, the Franconian fellowship forged an equally formidable side which ended the season with practically no fears at all in tenth place. Going back to the very beginning, though, it is hard to imagine a worse start to the campaign...
in the first round of the DFB Cup set a worrying tone for a side whose last moment of glory came in that very competition in 2007. “This is not on,” said Hecking at the time. “I hope the players learn something from this,” he added. That, they did, enabling Der Club to draw a satisfactory conclusion from the season.
“It was a perfect ending,” said Hecking’s heir Wiesinger three quarters of a year after that cup humbling. A 3-1 win over Werder Bremen ensured the club finished 10th with 44 points, a result worthy of recognition for a side with one of the lowest budgets in the Bundesliga.
Life after Hecking
A 1-0 win at Hamburger SV on Matchday One quickly erased memories of that cup embarrassment, and that proved to be the first of four away victories (Borussia Mönchengladbach, FC Augsburg and Fortuna Düsseldorf) during the 2012/13 campaign. Their home record of 27 points also substantiates a consistency within a side that only once in the season raised any doubts as to their Bundesliga suitability after Matchday 13 when they found themselves just a point above the bottom three, their lowest ebb of the year.
Shortly before Christmas came the bolt from the blue: Hecking, who would have become the club’s all-time longest serving coach come the end of the campaign, succumbed to the lure of VfL Wolfsburg. Personal reasons - his family live in Bad Nenndorf, south of Hanover and a stone’s throw from Wolfsburg - played a role in his decision.
General manager Martin Bader did not need to think twice: his decision was made and youth team coach Wiesinger took charge. With 24 of their 44 points coming under his guidance in the second half of the season, his contract was duly extended. It took a little while longer than planned for the ink to dry on his deal, though, as a run of three defeats in a row from Matchday 29 to 32 left Nuremberg shy of the 40-point mark which they finally edged past with wins over Düsseldorf and Bremen.
It was a season built on solid foundations (seventh best defence), but with an attack which lacked bite. With only 39 goals scored - more only than VfB Stuttgart, Augsburg and Greuther Fürth - it is clear where Wiesinger needs to focus his preparations for next season. “We need to attack the ball sooner and get it forward quicker,” he said. It says it all that their top scorer was none other than defender Per Nilsson with six.