Nuremberg - Given 1. FC Nuremberg's relatively trouble-free 2012/13 Bundesliga campaign, which included several eye-catching performances, it was perhaps inevitable that some of the team's leading lights would be poached by larger rivals.
Ginczek now, Stepinski later
Fans' nail-biting began in earnest when the departures of Timmy Simons and Timm Klose were announced within days of each other, yet a sense of optimism has since been restored, with promising new recruits enlisted.
That included players like Emanuel Pogatetz, who should assume Klose’s leadership role and guarantee the same defensive stability which was Nuremberg’s defining facet last year, with only 47 goals conceded.
Yet coach Michael Wiesinger has also brought in reinforcements to the front line. Youngster Mariusz Stepinski (18) has been earmarked as one for the future, while much is expected of Daniel Ginczek, who is set to shoulder goalscoring duties from the off after netting 18 times in 31 Bundesliga 2 appearances for FC St. Pauli last term.
Gärtner “not human”
Club insiders have been left giddy-eyed over the progress of home-grown talent Sebastian Gärtner, who joined first team training at the start of July and has made an instant impact. “He’s not human,” attested Alexander Esswein in view of the youngster's fitness levels.
Gärtner himself was rather more modest in his self-assessment: “Michael Wiesinger was my coach for one and a half years. I know what he wants: it’s all about winning possession in midfield and then getting the ball forward as quickly as possible.”
More versatile, more attacking and technically stronger
The new faces, alongside the return of Timo Gebhart, who made just 18 appearances last season due to injury, should give Wiesinger's side greater technical quality, as well as allowing the coach to vary his formation away from the tried and trusted 4-2-3-1 if required.
Having fended off interest for playmaker Hiroshi Kiyotake, the Japanese international will once again be charged with ensuring strings are pulled in midfield, giving the Nuremberg faithful every reason to look forward to another top-flight campaign.