“It’s in our hands” – that was the calming message delivered by Michael Frontzeck after a disappointing defeat against relegation rivals Dynamo Dresden. After throwing away a two goal lead to lose 3-2 in Dresden, St. Pauli were again looking down the table towards the relegation zone. The good form under Michael Frontzeck earlier in the season seemed to have secured our 2.Bundesliga future, but a combination of poor away form and a resurgence of the other teams in the relegation zone has re-surfaced the doubts.
As if relegation wasn’t a bad enough prospect, it would be disastrous for St. Pauli. In recent years the club has financed the development of the Millerntor plus the training ground. These financial agreements, coupled with the drop in revenue (TV and media, sponsorship, league payments) from the 2.Bundesliga to the 3.Liga could spell financial trouble again at the Millerntor. The club says they have a financial plan in place should the worst case scenario happen, but fans are understandably concerned after the financial woes it suffered previously.
The reality is though, that we should be ok. With 6 games left, we have a 7 point advantage over Bochum, who currently hold the relegation playoff place. Bottom placed Regensberg are 15 points behind St. Pauli, and second-bottom Sandhausen are 10 points behind St. Pauli – so both clubs are almost certainly out of reach. So the “worst case” scenario, barring a miracle turnaround from Sandhausen or Regensberg, is that we end up occupying 16th place – a relegation playoff place in the 2.Bundesliga, which means a two-legged tie against the team who finishes 3rd in the 3.Liga to decide who plays in the 2.Bundesliga next season.
Here is the current league positions:
So with a 7 point lead over Bochum, and a superior goal difference, you would expect that we are safe enough. Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. St. Pauli have a horrid run-in until the end of the season, facing 4 sides challenging for promotion – with home games against 1860 Munich (6th), Hertha Berlin (1st) and Eintracht Braunschweig (2nd), plus an away trip on the final day of the season to 3rd placed Kaiserslautern. It’s quite concievable that St. Pauli will struggle to win any of these four games, although our home form has been pretty good this season and as Michael Frontzeck said earlier today- we are a match for anyone in this league, if we play our best.
The other two games see us travel to a resurgent MSV Duisburg side – who are somehow the form team in the 2.Bundesliga with 4 wins from 5, and only 2 defeats in 9. Having struggled all season, they now look to have dragged themselves to safety. The most important game remaining though will be the trip to Bochum in two weeks. Bochum, in contrast to Duisburg, are completely out of form. They haven’t won in their last 6, and have only one win in 9 games since the winter break. A win in Bochum should give us enough breathing space going into the final weeks of the season.
It’s certainly going to be a nervous couple of weeks, but rational thinking suggests we should be ok. However, this is St. Pauli, where we have a tendency to make things difficult. If your goalkeeper can score a 90th minute equaliser, anything can happen.
Hold on tight, it’s going to be a rollercoaster.