Third time proves no charm
There is an old philosophy in football that if you win at home and at least draw on the road, you will succeed in the long-term. You can even lose a few games, as long as you are a strong side in your own back garden. However, TSV 1860 Munich have had three defeats in three games and this so called lion's den does not look like such a bad place to come for a visit.
After a positive start to the season, 1860 Munich have slid into a what can only be described as an abysmal slump in form. They look as if they dislike playing at the Allianz Arena nearly as much as their fans dislike having to go there to watch them. The home of their local neighbours from down the road on Säbener Straße has, after all, never quite felt like home for them.
On a foggy Friday evening in the Bavarian capital, Reiner Maurer's men succumbed to a 2-0 home defeat to Cologne (1. FC Köln) and the sad reality, as a result, is that some fans are calling for his head. Normally a bit formal, sometimes even irritable after a loss, Maurer was quite talkative during his post-match press conference. He was less than pleased with the second yellow card that Grigoris Makos was handed in the 38th minute, and although he acknowledged that the Greek international midfielder had made contact with former Lion Matthias Lehmann's face, he pointed out that it was a decision that made it very difficult for his team to recover from.
Unfortunately, by focusing on the dismissal and praising their opponents' play, he neglected to take responsibility for some tactical decisions that seem to be contributing to the team's downward spiral.
Former England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson, who was a guest at the invitation of 1860 Munich's primary investor Hamada Iraki, was one of 25,800 spectators in the stadium, and did a great deal to further the speculation that Maurer could be enjoying his own offseason sooner than the rest of the league.
To be perfectly candid, the match was all but over in the third minute when Canadian international Kevin McKenna scored from a corner in an eerily similar manner to a goal St Pauli scored two weeks ago. Despite having 87 minutes left to play, it was Cologne, not the home side that looked more threatening and clearly, far more stable in defence. They sat so deep that it made things difficult for an already blunted 1860 attack to break through.
If any 1860 player was controlling the midfield, it was the aforementioned Makos, which made it all the more distressing when he was sent off just before the break. Why Maurer plays Daniel Bierofka so far forward and refuses to include Maximilian Nicu in the line-up is anyone's guess. The former is an excellent defensive midfielder and the latter is one of those creative players who can have an immediately impact on a game. Instead, he finds himself warming the bench week in and week out.
The Geisböcke, which is one of Cologne's nicknames, might have been the superior team on the evening, but they were not so superior that 1860 Munich could not have beaten them. Playing with only 10 men is hard enough in the best of scenarios, but when you are already 1-0 down, it is often simply unrealistic to expect an equaliser, let alone a win. The early season hopes that this club will be promoted to the first league are becoming more and more of a distant dream. If Maurer does keep his job, which for consistency's sake would be a good thing, he might consider admitting he is not getting the most out of some very decent players.