Union Berlin’s poor start to the 2023/24 season shows no signs of slowing down.
After last year’s fairytale season in which the east Berlin club finished in an incredible fourth place, securing Champions League qualification, this season has got off to a terrible start with no points from their last 11 games.
Whether this is due to a high turnover in players, a lack of tactical flexibility or just a bump in the road under Urs Fischer, it is pivotal that Union start to get back on track before this season is lost.
Firstly it is important to explain that Union have had a large turnover of players in the summer transfer window with a total of 12 players joining from a huge variety of European clubs.
These signings however have not had the impact on the team that was expected. Players who have routinely featured in Europe such as Leonardo Bonucci, Kevin Volland, Robin Gosens and Brenden Aaronsen have been hugely disappointing.
This may be down to the fact that it takes time to learn Fischer’s preferred 5-3-2 formation in which he trains his players to soak up pressure and then hit opponents on the counter through the wide areas.
This type of football also might be a reason as to why Union are struggling so much this term. So far this season Union have failed to score in a total of eight games which is an astounding number.
This is because teams have adapted when they face Union and don’t sit so high which allows the players enough time to get into a defensive shape once Union are on the counter attack.
It is therefore vital that Fischer adapts his own tactical plans when on the offensive otherwise too much is left for Sherlado Becker who has been too isolated up top so far this season.
When David Datro Fofana played against Braga he too was left isolated and when being substituted was clearly frustrated, refusing to shake hands with the coach. This led to a one week suspension imposed by the club for the Chelsea loanee, not a plain sailing start.
Having so impressively navigated their way to a first ever Champions League berth last term, for many fans three defeats from three games just is not good enough. This was evident after the home defeat to Napoli in which the ultras were lambasting the players after the final whistle had gone.
Last season Union’s home form was one of the best in Europe. Oh how far away that seems now. They have already tasted defeat at home in the league to RB Leipzig, VFB Stuttgart and Hoffenheim, already surpassing the amount of times they lost at home last season.
In the Champions League this would be an unfair judgement as the club hierarchy surprisingly decided to take advantage of the bigger Olympiastadion. So far this has backfired with two defeats from two.
In terms of league position, Union sit 15th, just outside the relegation play-off spot. To make matters worse they have also been knocked out of the DFB Pokal by fellow Bundesliga side VFB Stuttgart.
Considering Union’s rapid rise in German football, some might think it was inevitable that the fairytale was going to end at some point and reality was going to set in. Fans of the Berlin club will no doubt still have immense trust in Fischer though as he has already done an exceptional job at the club.