2022 was great year for Eintracht Frankfurt as they won the Europa League in Seville beating Glasgow Rangers in an epic final and therefore qualifying for the Champions League for the first time since the competition’s inaugural edition in 1955-56. So far however, the year 2023 has been a huge disappointment and the optimism from the start of this season is evaporating quickly and being replaced with pessimism. What’s going on?
The weekend defeat at the hands of Union Berlin was followed by a rather curious press conference and comments from trainer Oliver Glasner indicating that clearly all is not well at Frankfurt right now. “I can talk about if, when’s and buts… I’m very cautious today because anything I say can and will be used against me. And that’s why today it’s better to keep my mouth shut.”
He then proceeded to give the most basic of answers to each and every following question put to him in the press room. He had however been more forthcoming when speaking to DAZN straight after the match clearly seething about the loss.
“It’s a question of quality and I don’t know how you can train quality” the Austrian ranted. “We had good offensive moves, but in the end, we screwed it up at the back. I’m sorry, that had nothing to do with football. How we’re doing there is substandard. It’s not the first time and we have to be honest. There’s no point in always palavering. The fact is that we always lose our games the same way.”
Eintracht have taken just 13 out of a possible 30 points since the January restart and were also eliminated by Napoli in the Champions League with ease. They now find themselves in a real battle to qualify for Europe next season with Wolfsburg, Leverkusen and even Mainz hot on their heels looking for top six finish.
Criticism of the back line is nothing new with Glasner voicing his concerns back in August following the 1-1 draw with Hertha Berlin saying, “I think we have problems on the defensive.” All season long the coach has chopped and changed his line-up switching from a back three to a back four and a five at times. The full back areas have been a particular issue with Philipp Max signed in January to try and solve it.
Individual mistakes have plagued Eintracht this season with players rated very highly last season just not reproducing it consistently this season. Indeed the word ‘consistency’ is somewhat of an alien concept to Eintracht defensively this season. Evan Ndicka and Tuta have looked shaky while Makoto Hasebe has also struggled.
Frankfurt have won only 48.53% of their defensive duels (15th pin the league), while only Bayer Leverkusen have conceded more goals (40) than Eintracht (36) in the top nine. That is clearly an issue for a club with European ambitions next season. The retirement of Martin Hinteregger has hit the club hard, and they haven’t managed yet to fully compensate.
While the back line is an issue, Glasner also has a few concerns with his offensive unit. It seems that Randal Kolo Muani is the only source of goals and if the Frenchman is missing or misfiring (as he did against Union) then Eintracht don’t have a secondary source of goals. Jesper Lindström (currently out injured) has one goal in the Rückrunde, while Mario Götze and Daichi Kamada have none. Before the World Cup, the average goals per game was 2.1. Since then, this figure has dropped to 1.4.
According to the FAZ, Eintracht have offered Glasner an extension to his current contract, which runs until 2024. However, there is no indication yet as to whether he will take the club up on their offer with his relationship with Eintracht board member for sport Markus Krösche rumoured to be professional at best. The 100% harmony needed to succeed seems to be missing and there are already rumours linking foreign clubs (Tottenham for example) with the Frankfurt coach.
So all in all, the arrival of spring has not brought an air of positivity to the Deutsche Bank Park. The club have not managed to ride the wave of last season’s European triumph and push into the top four. The mood is somewhat grey at the moment, which is not ideal with nine games left to define their season.