Urs Fischer wasn’t completely satisfied with his team’s performance, but he didn’t want to declare the crisis just yet. “If you have to integrate eleven players at once, it’s only logical that not everything is right,” said the 1. FC Union coach at the An der Alten Försterei stadium. That was a year ago, Union had bagged a sovereign 3-0 win over Dynamo Dresden.
Twelve months later, the situation is similar. On Saturday, the Köpenicker won their first home test game of the summer, and Fischer still expressed criticism. “You can see when the team is as mixed as it is today that things don’t work as they usually do. So I have a certain understanding of that, but overall it wasn’t enough for me,” he said afterwards 2-1 against Bohemian FC from Dublin.
On Monday, the Berliners travel ten days to Austria for the second training camp. There they face the same challenge as in previous years. After the departure of numerous top performers such as Taiwo Awoniyi, Andreas Luthe and Grischa Prömel, you have to quickly form a cohesive team from a newly formed squad. Even if there are only eight newcomers this year.
So Fischer has scheduled hard work for the days in Neukirchen am Großvenediger, in the mountains of Salzburger Land. “There will be another pack where it’s all about intensity, including conditional aspects,” he said. “We must continue to work on our automatisms, to give the new players our principles on the way, so that they internalize them.”
So far he has always managed to get the team back on its feet quickly despite a major upheaval. There were first good signs this summer too: Dutch defender Danilho Doekhi was rewarded for a strong performance with a dream goal against Dublin and striker Jordan Siebatcheu, who came from Young Boys Bern, came on several times after coming on as a substitute. Ultimately, the only thing he lacked was efficiency in front of goal.
In general, the performance in the test games has so far remained below expectations. The defeat against Eintracht Braunschweig lacked callousness in front of goal, and the coach was also critical after the victories against Viktoria Berlin and 1. FC Magdeburg.
He wasn’t alone in that. “If we play like today, it will definitely not work,” said Rani Khedira after the friendly against the Irish, but was optimistic. “The newcomers have settled in well so far, they’re all really good guys in character,” he says. As an established leader who only came to Berlin last summer, he himself is living proof of how quickly things can go at Union.
In addition to general integration, Fischer in Austria also has to target individual construction sites. In goal, it is not yet clear who will replace Luthe as long-term number one. Although Frederik Rönnow advertised himself with strong performances at the end of last season, Lennart Grill, who came from Bayer Leverkusen, has already made it clear that he will not be satisfied with the reserve role.
In addition, despite the successful transfer work, a few questions remain unanswered. For example, whether Tymoteusz Puchacz, who was last loaned to Trabzonspor, has a future at Union. The Pole particularly impressed offensively against Dublin, but Fischer still didn’t sound really convinced of him: “He was engaged today, but he also has one or two areas where he needs to improve.”
His compatriot Pawel Wszolek has said goodbye after a disappointing year. Maybe Puchacz will soon feel the same way. Because Union has already been linked several times this summer with the former Augsburg left-back Philipp Max, and there seems to be no way around the set Niko Gießelmann anyway.
Either way, you have to provide answers to the essential questions in the next ten days. Because after the return trip on July 20th, there are less than two weeks until the first competitive game in the DFB Cup at Chemnitzer FC.