In from the cold.

The winter break is almost over, and this weekend St. Pauli restart their 2.Bundesliga campaign with one objective – survival. It would be easy to have forgotten the first half of the season with only four wins in 19 games and a -17 goal difference, not to mention 3 managers and 2 sporting directors. But let’s not be all doom and gloom eh?

Matchday 19 saw St. Pauli secure a vital 3-1 victory over VfR Aalen, the club’s first victory in 10 games in new coach Ewald Lienen’s first game in charge. It was a performance that didn’t tally with St. Pauli’s league table and one that gives plenty of hope for the rest of the season. You can’t judge Lienen’s effect on the team on that one performance, but if the effort and application shown in that game goes into every game for the rest of the season then we should be ok.

The win over Aalen was vital to the league position going into the winter break, closing the gap on Aalen just above them to a single point. Sitting 17th and on 16 points, only Aue on 14 points sit below St. Pauli. Aalen and 1860 Munich(17 points), Sandhausen (20 points) and FSV Frankfurt (21 points) are all within reach of the boys in brown in their attempt to drag themselves out of the relegation zone. What better way to start the second half of the season then with an away trip to fellow battler Sandhausen on Saturday afternoon?

February will be a pivotal month in the club’s battle for survival. If you can have a “six pointer” with 14 games of the season remaining, then the Sandhausen fixture is every bit of that cliché. It’s followed by by a Monday night game at home to Greuther Fuerth, before another relegation ‘six pointers’. If the club drops points away at 1860 Munich and then at home to Aue it’ll be expecting the worst. 12 points from those two games would be great, Mr Lienen.

Lienen has done his bit to re-shape the squad during the winter break. He made his third and final signing of the transfer window yesterday prior to it slamming shut. (Does Sky Sports Germany present the transfer window in the same cringeworthy and horrendous manner as their English counterparts do? Answers on a postcard). Defensive midfielder Armando Cooper joined the club from Argentine club Godoy Cruz. Cooper is well known to Lienen, having played for him at Otelul Galati last season. Lienen stated yesterday that Cooper had been on his list of targets since he joined the club, and with the injury to Nehrig which looks set to rule him out for the rest of the season, the signing of Cooper become important.

He joins another signing, Julian Koch on loan from Mainz, as competition for one of the central midfield places. Koch has impressed in friendlies since joining the club, in particular in the recent 2-0 friendly victory over Bundesliga side Paderborn. However he has become an internet sensation in recent weeks not because of his childishly funny name or his performance against Paderborn, but for scoring this goal…

The other signing of the transfer window was Waldemar Sobota, a 27 year old Polish international winger on loan from Club Brugge. Sobota has very good credentials, with 17 caps and 4 goals for the Polish national side and having featured 4 times for Club Brugge in the Europa League this season.

The three new signings should add some quality to the St. Pauli side, and hopefully be the catalyst for a push up the table in the second half of the season. A first away win of the season on Saturday would be a decent starting point…