One of the problems women have with football and men is our obsession with statistics and trivia.
So here goes, “Which is the only club in the top five European Leagues yet to have conceded a goal ?” Struggling. Need a clue ? Some would say they’re ‘Fortunate’. Quite literally, because the answer is Fortuna Dusseldorf. Yes amazing isn’t it. The team who only sneaked into the Bundesliga through the back door after beating Hertha Berlin in the play off. They’re the first team from the 2nd Division to win German football’s version of Russian roulette since 2008/09 season. The bookmakers have Fortuna down as favourites to go straight back down. After all, they’d finished a distant third behind Champions Greuther Furth and 6 points behind runners up Eintracht Frankfurt.
So what has propelled them to the dizzy height of 5th in the Bundesliga top flight? One answer is their coach Norbert Meier.
In 2005, when coach at Duisburg, the ex-West Germany international was banned by the German football federation and suspended by the club for headbutting a Koln player. It was out of character but he paid the price.
No club in Germany would touch Meier but Fortuna gave him a chance and he took over at the start of 2008 when they were playing in the German 4th division.
After gaining promotion, Meier knew he had to strengthen his squad and so cheaply recruited 18 new players from the lower divisions. Their best of them so far has been ex-Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Fabian Giefer who turned down the chance to join Bayern Munich as he didn’t want to play second fiddle to Manuel Neuer.
Ukrainian striker Andriy Voronin has joined on loan and his reassuring presence has taken the pressure off the inexperienced team. And then there’s that very well organised and hard working defence which has left the 54 year old Meier a picture of calm and (false) modesty.
“The team deserve a compliment for the way they are working. But of course we know we still have a lot to improve.”
Meier is intelligent enough to know one of football’s oldest cliches. If it’s not broken then don’t fix it.
“If we start playing crazy football, then our inferiority will just become clearer.”
You could argue that Fortuna haven’t played any team in the top half of the table. Indeed, Tuesday’s 2-0 victory came at bottom of the table Augsburg who are suffering second season syndrome. But goalless draws against 2 of the form teams of last season, BMG and VFB shouldn’t be forgotten.
Their proud record could go on Friday evening when they welcome 4th place Schalke to the “Esprit Arena.”
But even if their goal is breached for the first time this season, it’s still a remarkable achievement by a team who everybody was writing off. For that reason alone they should be applauded.