Wolfsberg, SKN St. Pölten, TSV Hartberg and SV Ried, who triumphed 3-1 in Innsbruck on Sunday, follow in sixth to ninth place. The Wattener and the Innviertler separate four counters. Austria wintered on a two-digit place in the table. Now, eight rounds without a win have brought the Viennese further into trouble. With a 1: 1 against LASK thanks to a heroic deed by Patrick Pentz, there were exhausted, but also satisfied faces at the end of the year.
The blasting took place in Wals-Siezenheim – but not in the camp of the dominator in previous years, but with the outsider. After a splendid autumn in Europe, but mixed in the league, the WAC victory came as “i-point about this year of superlatives”, as coach Ferdinand Feldhofer put it. Eliel Peretz shot out the success of the Lavanttaler after a 2-0 lead and 2-2 intermediate result in the 79th minute.
“If someone had told us that we would be third in the Europa League, master the group stage with ease, be back in the cup quarter-finals and hibernating as the top six … I don’t think much more is possible,” said Feldhofer. In the league you are back in the top half of the table for the first time since the second round. And in the addendum against Sturm Graz on January 17th you still have the chance to shorten the gap.
The recovery phase is now quite short, but not a little less necessary – even if you are on your way to starting a series with two league victories en suite. “The break is not a shame, to be honest,” said Feldhofer. “It was a grand finale. The last few games were at a very high level, but we’re still happy that the break is here.”
At the Viennese distribution circle, the violet emotions erupted after Pentz’s penalty parade against Rene Renner in the 97th minute. The Austria goalkeeper did not save his team for the first time this fall. One was “at least a little rewarded,” said Pentz about the draw. One point doesn’t really help Austria any further. In the spring, the favorites, who are financially more than poor, have to win victories in order to keep their chances of winning the championship group alive.
The fact that the table shows the relentless truth is not denied in the sports management. “There is always a little something missing in this and that area. If a little something is missing every week, that is also missing in the table. That is quite a lot,” said Peter Stöger. Austria would be “justified where it is”. The fact that at least a draw was made against the highly rated LASK thanks to a lot of running work is good for his battered team before the league break, judged the coach of the Viennese.
As is well known, a new investor should bring a new investor, both sporting and, above all, financially rosier violet times. The chairman of the board, Markus Kraetschmer, confirmed to Sky in the run-up to the game that there were “several interested parties” and that offers were being “tinkered with”. Interested parties should come from the American region but also from Germany and “other continents”.
Kraetschmer also hit critics in the interview. “Many rats are now crawling out of the holes that had disappeared for a while,” he said. In times of crisis it is often “very lonely on the bridge”, said the long-time Austria manager. He is currently being held responsible for everything that went wrong in the club. Kraetschmer, whose contract expires next July, emphasized that he was not a chair glue: “If the solution is that Austria is successful again, if Markus Kraetschmer does not exist, then they should make this solution. I have none Problem with that.”
In the table, Austria was slowed down by Ried for the time being. The “Schweitzer effect” was noticeable with the Innviertel team: After taking over the long-time assistant, who instead of Gerald Baumgartner, who was on leave, is in charge of the affairs until a new head coach is found, the first away win of the season worked immediately. The Rieder deservedly won in Innsbruck.
“Six minutes, three goals – we were very determined. Then the most important 20 minutes were to keep exactly that. Compliments that we kept it up like that,” said Gerhard Schweitzer about his team’s brilliant comeback after the restart Marco Grüll scored on penalties, Bernd Gschweidl and Ante Bajic. “If we learn from this defeat, it can be positive,” WSG coach Thomas Silberberger tried to find something good. The Wattener are still fifth. “But the table position is a brutally deceptive one. We would do well to keep watching Altach and Admira.”