Werder Bremen – Nouri’s sacking was necessary but was it right?

There can be little doubt that sacking Alexander Nouri was a necessary thing to do, if not the right thing. Necessary because Werder Bremen’s form has been dreadful this season. Five points, five defeats, zero wins. If Köln weren’t having an even worse start to the season the club by the Weser would be propping up the whole Bundesliga.

However, whether or not the dismissal of Werder’s latest coach was the right thing to do is a more interesting question. Here is a man who started his playing career in the Werder youth team. He spent three years in the second team before finally departing, in 2001, unable to make the step up to the first team. After starting his coaching career at the club where he finished as a player, Oldenburg, Nouri returned to Werder to coach the second team. His predecessor was Viktor Skripnik who had stepped up to the plate and replaced Robin Dutt as head coach of the first team.

After a disastrous start to the 2016-17 season, the Ukranian, who himself was a veteran of 138 games for Werder and had began (and it seems ended) his coaching career at the club, was fired after a dreadful start to the season. Skripnik was struck out and Nouri was on deck. After a relatively positive start of four points from three games, Werder sporting director, Franck Baumann, gave Nouri a contract until the end of the season.

With his new contract in his back pocket, Nouri led his team to four straight defeats. However, the team rallied and finished the season on a more than creditable 8th pace in the Bundesliga, almost staking a place in the Europa League qualifier. The impact of new signings Niklas Moisander, Thomas Delaney, and the injury hit Max Kruse eventually took hold.  Nouri was seen as a young, progressive coach who was regarded with affection by his players. Sadly, the club’s progression has been halted after a nightmare opening stage of the campaign.

However, while much of Werder’s failure be laid at Nouri’s door, the general lack of investment in the squad cannot be ignored. Baumann did well to get Delaney from FC Copenhagen last winter and the Danish international was a key player in Werder’s revival last season. In the last close season, Baumann returned to Copenhegen to sign full back Ludwig Augustinsson however, it is significant that Delaney’s once former and new team mate was the club’s biggest summer signing at 4.5 million euro. It is hard to be overly critical of the coach under those circumstances. However, when the fans are calling for his head there are very few realistic options available beyond giving him the sack.

None of which takes away from the fact that a 38 year old coach has been dismissed despite being given very little support in the transfer market. His prospects for future employment have been set back considerably and it is entirely possible that a promising young career could be over before it’s really begun.  It is for this reason that the decision to fire him, however necessary, was not right. At least Nouri can console himself with the balance of his contract that will be due. A contract that was only extended last May.

Whoever becomes the next Werder Bremen coach will face the same problems. As they did with Nouri and Skripnik, Werder have moved the current second team coach up to the first team in an interim capacity. This time the man in the hot seat is Florian Kohfeldt and Baumann has not ruled out giving the 35 year old the job on a permanent basis: “If we think that Florian is the best option, we will decide that way.” All this has a ring of familiarity to it and should the Kohfeldt enjoy early success he might consider the fate of his predecessors before accepting the job permanently.