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Arndt’s Analysis - The Inside Story: Is Funkel a Man for Progress or Stagnation? 

Last Saturday, TSV 1860 Munich appointed Friedhelm Funkel as their new manager. The 59-year-old has signed a contract until the end of the season, with an option for an additional year. Carsten Arndt reviews the appointment for us.

The dust will never settle at this club. After nine months in charge, manager Alexander Schmidt was fired after the 2-0 home defeat against Sandhausen in the last league outing. Granted, his team played poorly and demonstrated some alarming body language, but the moment of Schmidt’s sacking was questionable. If they really had 100 % trust in Schmidt before the start of the season, they wouldn’t have fired him so early in the season. But investor Hasan Ismaik has never been a fan of Schmidt, leaning towards the supposed “big solution” and so Schmidt’s time was always numbered. And so 1860′s director of sport, Florian Hinterberger had to search for a new manager again. On Saturday, president Gerhard Mayrhofer presented Schmidt’s successor: Friedhelm Funkel. Is he the right choice for this job? Can he bring back the success? There are some signs pointing towards a yes, but there are also a few worries.

Funkel: The promotion expert

At first glance, the decision from Mayrhofer and Co. seems to make absolute sense. With Funkel they get a real promotion specialist. The 59-year-old has achieved promotion no less than five times and this coveted achievement is something Sechzig have been dreaming about for eight years now. Funkel was made manager of KFC Uerdingen in 1990/91 and gained promotion to the Bundesliga in his second year in charge. He even repeated the feat later on in his career, before enjoying promotion with Duisburg, Cologne and Frankfurt. He is a man who knows how it works and therefore his appointment does make sense on first viewing.

Success lies in the past

Despite all the success, one important thing should be forgotten. Recently, his form has been terrible. On his latest stage in Aachen he even got the maximum humiliation, suffering a double sacking after first failing at Bochum before Aachen. That was two years ago. Since then he has been on the search for a new job. It seemed that the ex-pro, who won the German Cup as a player in 1985, was no longer in demand. It’s been five years since a side under Funkel’s management enjoyed a successful campaign - when he led Eintracht to a more than respectable ninth place.

But even there he had to leave earlier than expected the following season. There’s no doubting he had success, but pivotally most of it hasn’t lasted very long. As manager of 1. FC Köln he dropped into the second division at first before he achieving promotion again. He has lost  a higher total of his more than 700 games as manager than he has won (38.91%-34,4%). His five promotions have been offset by five sackings.

Training has started but Funkel’s first test comes on Friday as 1860 face an away trip to Aalen. Photo: DPA

Conservative playing philosophy

The absent success aside, the man Friedhelm Funkel and his concept of football seem to be different from 1860′s. Down-to-earth, defensive-minded, compact and not glamourous, literally, are the best ways to describe Funkel’s style. Ironically, these are attributes that could be used to describe Alexander Schmidt. They appear to be the same attributes that cost Schmidt his job. So where is the progress? Where is the clear style of 1860?

It’s a fact that this team will definitely not play spectacular football under Funkel. Quite the contrary, his teams are always defined by their compactness. They usually leave the field to the opponents and revel in their role as underdog. This is not a role that suits 1860′s aspirations. So it´s not surprising that a lot of 1860′s fans are sceptical.

Experience before advancement

There is a further argument against Funkel. Earlier in his career, he carried the reputation of favouring older and more experienced players, even if a younger one was better. While in Germany a youth mania dominates and players in their early thirties are on the shelf, Funkel has spent most his career dusting those older legs off. This is absolutely contrary to the philosophy the club stated they are keen to follow over the last few years. The focus has been the integration and development of young players. The progress of these players could come to a standstill.

Future lost in solution?

Overall the choice of Friedhelm Funkel as the new 1860 manager is one that suggests a desire for a quick fix, not a stable foundation. Funkel can definitely call on the strengths he showed in his earlier years, and maybe he can swiftly bring success to the team. But, he has no concept or philosophy for the future. He isn’t a manager who can form and develop his side over an extended period of time. With this arrival, 1860 have effectively said they are looking for a fast response. The current solution is perhaps short of a future, which could very well hurt the sustainability of TSV 1860 Munich.

Fortunately, this will never happen. Ismaik will ensure that because he is still looking for the big and glamourous solution, that is, promotion to the top flight. So before he even takes charge of his first game on Friday (against VfR Aalen), Friedhelm Funkel’s days in Munich seem to be numbered, whether he wins or not.

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One Response to Arndt’s Analysis - The Inside Story: Is Funkel a Man for Progress or Stagnation?

  1. Dream Löwer

    If promotion isn’t achived….Get the Funk-el out!

    Good short term appointment to steady the ship, stop the rot, building confidence.


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