Eintracht Frankfurt fell to a very disappointing 3-1 loss to relegation-battling Hoffenheim on Saturday, their tenth consecutive league game without a win. At the start of the second half, coach Oliver Glasner was sent off – giving Eintracht a taste of what life could be like without him.
Winning the Europa League in his debut campaign on the Main and having Eintracht on the fringes of the title race during the Hinrunde made Glasner highly sought-after, with Chelsea, Tottenham and even Real Madrid linked with the Austrian. 2023 though hasn’t gone well for the club – DFB-Pokal aside. Whether you blame the coach, the players, or sporting director Markus Krösche, results have been bad. Many fans are on Glasner’s side; understandable given his cup success, but recent form has certainly plummeted and he isn’t blameless.
In March, the club offered the coach an extension to his current contract, which he turned down, saying he wanted to know where Eintracht were heading before signing. Sky reported soon after that the club has contacted Matthias Jaissle as a contingency plan. Today, Bild claimed that the club is looking at Dino Toppmöller.
There is lots to suggest a summer exit is likely. Glasner has become noticeably more uptight in press conferences – he lost his cool in the press conference after Hoffenheim, which drew public criticism from club CEO Axel Hellmann. He has frequently made complaints about the squad, which may be interpreted as implicit criticism of Krösche – with whom his relationship is apparently cold.
Glasner has previous for this. His exit from LASK was speculated over for some time before his move to Wolfsburg was finally announced. In Wolfsburg he signed a three year contract but left after two years, triggering his release clause after allegedly falling out with Jörg Schmadtke. If he leaves Frankfurt like he did Wolfsburg, he risks developing a reputation as a man who is hard to work with and won’t stick around long.
There is a release clause in his contract, expiring after the last game of the season. But the earlier links with Tottenham and Chelsea no longer seem very likely, so there’s no obvious move for Glasner that he could have sorted out before the deadline – at least, not any good moves. By hesitating about his future, he forced the club to look at alternatives, which now undermines his position at the Waldstadion. Each loss makes those alternatives look more attractive.
By committing to the club, Glasner could have sent the signal for others to follow. There is already plenty of uncertainty at Eintracht – Daichi Kamada & Evan N’Dicka are almost certain to leave, but haven’t signed anywhere yet; lots of clubs are interested in Jesper Lindstrom & Randal Kolo Muani; long-serving president Peter Fischer will leave in summer. That puts everyone at the club in a tough position – how do you plan for next season when so many key people are leaving their futures open? Had their coach renewed, they could have had a much clearer idea of their direction for next season and beyond. That could have helped the squad this year, and he certainly wouldn’t be having to deal with criticism from the club’s CEO.
Even if they miss out on Europe, Eintracht Frankfurt is a good club to be at, and Glasner is a good coach. Despite all the problems, both parties may struggle to improve on what they have if they were to separate. But that might now be the only option.