Newly promoted SV Dessau 05 found themselves locked in a tough battle to survive in tier five of German football. Manager Ruprecht Prusseit had been given no choice but to put faith in youth, and that was being rewarded as his prospects were showing signs of improvement.
However, survival was still a tough ask with just a three-point gap to the bottom three. And, not to look like he was trying to jump ship, Prusseit did throw his hat in the ring for the vacant role at Rot-Weiß Erfurt, who offered him his first interview at another club but ultimately went with former MTK Budapest boss Michael Boris.
Prusseit wasn’t too disappointed, as Erfurt were cut adrift in Regionalliga and suffering significant financial issues, so he swiftly switched his attention to all matters Dessau related. However, the financial issues at his own club made that somewhat difficult, as the board dramatically slashed his wage budget in January 2024.
Tricky Run Of Form
Dessau’s semi-success had been built on relatively solid defensive performances. But the second half of the campaign began with successive 3-1 defeats at fellow East German side Plauen and at home to Bautzen then a 1-0 defeat at 2nd-place Eilenburg in which they mustered just one shot to the hosts’ 19.
But they put an end to that poor run as hot prospect wingers Koffi Laba and Aluong Yaak sealed a 2-0 home victory over 15th-place Rudolstadt. That win was vital as it sent Dessau into a 50-day winter break with a five-point gap to the relegation zone.
The winter break saw the non-contract status problem hit Dessau again as they lost Prusseit’s only two signings goalkeeper Ralf Wölk and holding midfielder Tobias Falk to teams in the league below them. Not ideal.
Dessau returned to action with an unusually high-scoring game as they lost 4-3 to Sandhausen. But they stepped up with a vital 2-0 win at home to bottom side Wernigerode thanks to a Marc Kauffmann penalty and 16-year-old winger Oliver Büscher scoring on his debut. And crucially, that opened up an eight-point gap to the bottom three.
Relegation Scrap Heats Up
A tough run of games against five top-half teams followed and Dessau caused no surprises, conceding 16 goals in the process. The good news was that their run-in was slightly easier and they still had a five-point buffer as the teams below them were in equally dismal form.
First up was 9th-place Nordhausen, who strolled to an easy 3-1 away win. But luckily Rudolstadt also lost at home to Wismut Gera. After six defeats on the bounce, Prusseit took a radically new 5-4-1 tactical approach to Fahner Höhe and it got the desired result as they bored the hosts to death and nicked all three points through a Kauffmann penalty. That secured Dessau’s place in German Division North East-South and, according to Football Manager, it also secured the highest position in Dessau history!
It was lucky they did seal survival in that game as they were hammered 4-1 at home by Oberlausitz and then lost 2-0 at home to Inter Leipzig. That confirmed a 13th-place finish and Dessau somehow stayed up despite losing eight of their last nine games and amassing just 26 points.
Tough Season But A Bright Future?
There weren’t too many positives to take away from this season, other than a bunch of kids somehow managing to avoid relegation. Tom Berg, a striker with 5 finishing and Prusseit really wasn’t convinced should be playing up front, led the way with eight goals in 25 games but, like most of his teammates, finished the season in abysmal form. Kauffmann was one bright spark with six goals and four assists in 30 appearances from midfield while Yaak got five goals and seven assists from the right.
However, there was some optimism as Prusseit’s second youth intake delivered again. It offered nine players with 5-star potential, but you obviously have to take intakes at this level with a hefty pinch of salt. The star of the 2024 crop is attacking midfielder Kevin von der Weth, who comes in with 3.5-star ability, along with fellow midfielder Mohamed Seidemann, who has 3-star ability, which immediately makes them the best two midfielders at the club! Also worth keeping an eye on are striker Lukas Böhmermann, wingers Tommy Eggert, Leander Stephan and Maik Altenschmidt, midfielder Niclas Senger, right-back Jan Heidel, left-back Jörg Flückiger, centre-backs Gabriel Kastenhofer and Kevin Pistol and goalkeeper Stefan Meier.
Elsewhere in Germany, there was still no threat to Bayern’s dominance as they won the league in March, completed another invincible season (so they still haven’t lost a league game in this save) and finished 18 points clear of Dortmund. Leipzig and Union finished in 8th and 9th.
Prusseit’s contract was expiring in the summer of 2024 and he held off signing the latest offer from the Dessau board. The club’s finances were an absolute nightmare as they ended the campaign over £500,000 in the red, with no viable income to address the ongoing losses. So Prusseit would keep his options open in the summer, in the hope that another East German club came calling.
Would Prusseit continue the job he’d started at Dessau? Or would another club lure him away? Join us on Friday to find out!
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