New to OstDeutsche Sieg? Find out more about the challenge in Part 1 and catch up on our first impressions of life at FSV Zwickau in Part 2.
Despite having no coaching badges and zero managerial experience, fledgling East German boss Ruprecht Prusseit had made a solid start to life with FSV Zwickau. Die Schwäne were sitting pretty in 8th place in 3. Liga after seeing 23 goals during their new manager’s first six managers.
Prusseit didn’t make any transfers before the end of the first transfer window, partly because he didn’t feel the need and partly because his scouts didn’t recommend anyone good enough. And a reminder that, in this save, there’s no use of the player search screen allowed so all signings need to come through the scouting team… which could be interesting…
Defensive tactics reap rewards
Zwickau continued their 3. Liga campaign with the world’s worst kit clash at home to Viktoria Köln. They took the lead through left-winger Robert Herrmann (which translates to Mr Man!) but were massively outplayed and Viktoria scored twice in the second half to claim a deserved win.
That teed up a massive first Sachsen Derby as Zwickau travelled to fellow East German rivals and purple-clad Erzebirge Aue. Zwickau started well with a lovely finish by striker Noel Eichinger. But they struggled to create anything else and the hosts grew into the game and got a deserved equaliser. Midfielder Mike Könnecke got himself sent off so Prusseit battened down the hatches and held on for a hard-fought 1-1 draw.
A first home loss followed in what seemed a slightly unfair matchup against Dortmund II, who had future stars like Nnamdi Collins and Jayden Braaf, dominated by 13 shots to three and won 2-0. And the fans turned on Prusseit for what they deemed to be negative tactics. But that defensive approach worked wonders at Ingolstadt as Zwickau came from behind to win with goals from wingers Johan Gómez and Herrmann despite only having five shots to 15.
They then welcomed 3. Liga’s only undefeated side Wehen Wiesbaden. That record looked under threat as Eichinger poked Zwickau ahead just before the break. And, despite dominating the game with 17 shots to seven, Wiesbaden also succumbed to Prusseit’s defensive football thanks to Johannes Brinkies’ 10 saves!
One label you couldn’t give Zwickau in Prusseit’s first couple of months in charge was “exciting.” However, they raced into a 2-0 lead at Saarbrucken but capitulated to a 5-3 defeat, which epitomised their up-and-down form. That seemingly spaked them into life as they claimed a 3-0 victory over Freiburg II then a 3-1 win at second-place RW Essen, who had a player sent off in the second minute but still managed to have 25 shots to Zwickau’s 14.
Those results lifted Zwickau to the heady heights of fourth in the league! They also saw Baumann become the first of Prusseit’s players to win a player of the month award in October, in which he scored five and assisted two in four games.
The defensive approach returned at home to one of the league favourites Osnabruck as midfielder Yannik Möcker headed home from a corner and they defended for a 1-0 win before nicking a 0-0 at Waldhof Mannheim.
That took Zwickau into a huge game before a lengthy break for the Winter World Cup. They made the short trip over to Prusseit’s hometown of Dresden for a first Sachsen Derby against 3. Liga favourites Dynamo Dresden at the 32,249-capacity Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion, which is the biggest stadium in 3. Liga and the biggest ground Prusseit had ever been to.
Unfortunately, the team was absolutely exhausted three days on from the Mannheim game, but Prusseit decided to stick with his first-choice 11. They succeeded in their mission in the first half, preventing any semblance of flowing football to go in 0-0 at half-time. Veteran striker Ronny König missed a good chance just after the break and the Zwickau defence continued to successfully shut down any threat from Dresden. But just as the game seemed to be drifting to another 0-0, 39-year-old König rose highest to hammer a header home from a Patrick Göbel cross in injury time. And that secured a massive win to take Zwickau into the winter break on a real high.
That huge win over Dresden lifted Zwickau into third place in 3. Liga with nine wins and five defeats from 17 games. They’re the top scorers in the league with 28 goals but only two teams have conceded more than their 23. Bizarrely, Duisburg have scored the second-most goals (26) but sit one place outside the relegation zone!
The star man behind this surprisingly good form has been centre-back Davy Frick, who’s got a 7.46 average rating plus three goals and an assist from 14 matches. He’s also only one game away from 350 league appearances for Zwickau having been at the club since 2011. While Baumann, who has five goals and four assists, and old man König, who has four goals, have also impressed.
Despite the on-pitch positivity, one cause for concern is the finances at Zwickau. The club is losing around £300,000 per month, of which the biggest outlay is £171,136 on player wages and £92,915 on staff wages – compared to a total monthly income of just £164,000. And that seems a fairly untenable situation.
But Prusseit was looking forward to a nice relaxing winter watching the World Cup on TV while fine-honing his tactics that were strangely defensive yet attacking at the same time!
Can Prusseit maintain Zwickau’s unlikely push towards the top of 3. Liga into 2023? Join us on Monday to find out!
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