A few months ago I stood on the terrace in Bochum ahead of the first game of the season, hopeful of what the season might bring under new coach Olaf Janßen. Those first 90-odd minutes were full of hope and excitement as St. Pauli ran Bochum ragged, taking a deserved one nil victory and dominating the home side in a way rarely seen by the boys in brown in recent years. The team were playing 4-4-2, Janßen’s preferred formation, which meant Sahin only started on the bench. It was a lively, passionate performance and the subsequent 16 games could not have been predicted on the back of those 90 minutes in Bochum.
St. Pauli struggled to find an identity under Janßen – perhaps through a lack of a settled starting XI, hindered by a number of injuries, and also through a determination to keep to the 4-4-2 formation Janßen had promised to implement whilst struggling to fit his more influential players into the system. In his 17 games in charge, 5 wins, 5 draws and 7 losses, only scoring 15 goals was deemed not good enough by the board and he was sacked prior to last weeks draw with Duisburg.
The optimism of that Bochum result on the opening night of the season is long gone, but what remains is confusion. How has the team got itself into this situation? How have performances being so contrasting? It hasn’t been particularly bad, one or two results aside…but it hasn’t been good enough either. St. Pauli haven’t won since October 1st, but it doesn’t feel like it, does it? Maybe it’s because that night in Bochum still remains fresh in the memory and the hope of success seems closer than the reality of another relegation battle. Amidst a chaotic injury list, tonight is the proverbial six pointer that BT Sport will insist it is. Two teams in the bottom half, desperate for 3 points during the final 90 minutes of the first half of the season. A win would move St. Pauli above Bochum and others into 10th, a position that gives a false sense of security but is surely more secure than 15th where St. Pauli will stay with another defeat.
Perhaps it’s too late for a season of hope and optimism, because even a turnaround of last campaigns epic proportions would be unlikely to push us into the promotion reckoning, but rightly or wrongly it’s too early to be fearful..at least for another hour or two.