Manuel Veth –
Here we are again. 1860 München is, once more, deep down in the relegation battle. On matchday 27, 1860 München gave away three points in the last minute after Sebastian Boenisch accidentally cleared the ball into the path of Marcin Kaminski and the ball ricocheted into the box.
It was two points lost for 1860 München, but at the same time, the club appeared to be going in the right direction. Including the match against Stuttgart, Vítor Pereira had, on average, collected 1.7 points since taking over the club during the winter break. With than 32 points, 1860 were five points clear of the drop-zone.
But what followed was a disappointing 3-0 defeat to Erzgebirge Aue, a 1-1 draw against Sandhausen, and a 1-0 loss to 1.FC Kaiserslautern. As a result, 1860 München’s five-point gap to the relegation zone had shrunk to just one measly point.
Duel of the Lions will set the tone for rest of the season
On Sunday, 1860 München will entertain Eintracht Braunschweig in the duel of the lions. Both clubs are known in their respective cities as die Löwen (lions) but, while 1860 is battling against relegation, Eintracht Braunschweiger are currently fighting for promotion. Die Braunschweiger Löwen are currently second with 57 points, three points behind VfB Stuttgart, even with third-placed Hannover 96, and just three points ahead of Union Berlin.
Braunschweig are, therefore, travelling to Munich in need of three points. Meanwhile, 1860 München are 15th and, with 33 points, are on even points with Aue, who are in 16th place and, therefore, the relegation/promotion playoff spot. Two points behind 1860 and Aue are Arminia Bielefeld who have 31 points. In a worst case scenario, a defeat to promotion candidate Eintracht Braunschweig could, therefore, land 1860 on a direct relegation spot after matchday 31.
After that, 1860 would still have three matches against Dynamo Dresden, VfL Bochum, and Heidenheim, in which to repair the damage. All three opponents no longer have anything to play for but, at the same time, an 1860 defeat on the weekend could give all these matches a do-or-die character.
As a result, the club has been trying to mobilize its fans to support the club on the weekend in the game against Braunschweig. Sponsor MAN alone purchased 13,000 tickets for the match and, as a result, the club announced that 30,000 tickets had already been sold by Tuesday. Investor Hasan Ismaik, however, hopes for a full stadium against Braunschweig.
Writing on Facebook, Ismaik appealed to the fans: “Come and support us on Sunday in the stadium. We need to give our players the feeling that the fans are behind them. Because I am sure that we will be able to celebrate together. [Sport director] Ian Ayre was right when he said: ‘it is time that the Lion awakens.’”
Ian Ayre, in the meantime, has called the potential relegation a catastrophe. The Englishman, who joined 1860 from Liverpool on April 1, has been brought into turn 1860 München from a second division club into an internationally recognized brand. Relegation within weeks of starting his job would be a very dangerous outcome, and Ayre even voiced the fear that Ismaik could end his engagement should the club get relegated.
Those fears were recently put to bed when Ismaik announced on Facebook, “I will never let go of 1860.” At the same time, relegation would be disaster. All of a sudden, the club would be removed another level from returning to the Bundesliga. Furthermore, past examples have highlighted that clubs do not always recover from the drop to the third division—Paderborn, who were relegated last season are currently in the relegation zone in Liga 3.
1860 München – Relegation would be a disaster
Certainly,1860 München would struggle to keep hold of head coach Vítor Pereira, whose playing philosophy is a step forward for the club and, without whom it would be impossible to attract the sort of players that could help the club. Furthermore, 1860 München’s second team would also face the drop from the Regionalliga Bayern to the fifth division.
Despite the fact that 1860’s U-19 and U-17 are struggling against relegation from the Bundesliga, the club is well known for its youth development. But many top talents could choose to leave the club should 1860 München be relegated to Liga 3.
With all of the doom and gloom, there are, however, good reasons why 1860 München will likely avoid the drop. The club has been in this situation before and, after Braunschweig, will only face opposition that have nothing to play for in the league. Furthermore, Pereira’s playing style has been more efficient against teams that are trying to play attractive attacking football, which is the case for all four of 1860 München’s last opponents.
Finally, there is the fact that 1860 has been playing good football, and that the talent on the field should be strong enough to beat even the strongest opposition in the league. The one ingredient that has been missing is the will to fight but, with the club’s future on the line, every last player on the squad should recognize that it is now about the future of 1860.
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and podcaster for WorldFootballIndex.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.