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From Good to Great
19.09.2010

From Good to Great

As the ‘Westliga’ is the division of endless hype almost everyone is considered to be ‘one of the top favourites’ for automatic promotion spot. Thus, on a pleasantly unspectacular day, weather-wise, 1400 Austria Salzburg fans in Maxglan witnessed the entrance of yet another ‘top favourite’ for the title – Anif. In an industrious game of two halves Austria Salzburg got the first goal in the first half and could have easily scored a second, but in the second half it was an increasingly uphill struggle against an extremely disciplined and efficient Anif team, who nevertheless had to make do with a 1-1 score line at full time.

There’s never been a better time to start up a betting ring as some of us came to within an arse hair of predicting the result. My tip, pessimist that I am, was 2-1 for Anif. I can’t remember who it was, Christian or Wolfgang, but the tip was 1-1 or 2-2. Not bad; but we weren’t here to place bets. For the record Tom Hofer, the head coach at Anif, has been one of my customers/students on and off for 13 years. He’s learning English so that when Sir Alex Ferguson finally packs it all in at Manchester United after 30-odd years of service, he can take over and take ManU to a new level. No doubt he’ll take Philip Scherz and Christoph Hübl with him.
 
Problem is; he’ll suffer from the Prince Charles syndrome. Way back in the late 1960s Prince Charles became the Prince of Wales and everybody knew that he was the first heir to the throne of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Commonwealth. The main problem is – he is still the first heir to the throne after over 40 years, because his mum just can’t get enough of the job. Besides which, Tom doesn’t need to speak good English to coach ManU, after all Sir Alec is a Scot. For anybody who thinks they speak good English just because they’ve read Winnie the Pooh and Animal Farm, I suggest you go on a day trip to Glasgow; it’s like watching Trainspotting OK, Trainspotting was Edinburgh, but unless you’re Scottish you won’t know the difference). By the time Sir Alec retires from football, Tom Hofer will be bald, with dentures, plastic hips and his own room in an old people’s home in Hallein.
 
Anyway, enough of this nonsense. The game begins and yet again I, through almost no fault of my own, have a beer in my hand. In the first five minutes it seems to be all Austria Salzburg and Anif don’t look to be in the game. After ten minutes we’ve already had a couple of chances and people are getting a bit over-confident. Anif is a team formed in the Hofer mould – young, disciplined players, all fit as a butcher’s dog, two speedy strikers and the ability to change up and down a gear as the game requires. Although we look good at the start I’m constantly worried that we’re going to start pushing far too far forward like we did last year, which is when you get caught on the break. On one occasion we were taken by surprise and had it not been for Stefan (the small cat) Huber’s incredible athleticism we might have been in a different situation. However, apart from the one big chance Anif missed out on, as it turned out we really were that good in the first half hour, and due to our preparedness to play pressing and put Anif under pressure there were very few chances for the visitors. When Nico Mayer put us in front on 39 minutes the 1-0 lead we took into the break was well deserved.
 
Half time, second beer down. Should I go for the third? No, OK, yes! I’m about as disciplined as a 3-year-old in a sweet shop when it comes to beer. Now I know I’ll be leaving the car in Salzburg and hoping my girlfriend keeps her grudgingly given promise of picking me up later in the evening. I lose track of the game for a while after the restart, but from what I can remember the first 15 minutes of the second half carried on in the same vein as the previous 45, except for the fact that if you play 60 minutes of pressing and pressure football the effort will start to tell and slowly you become tired and the structure of your game falls apart. In order to decelerate this tendency, fresh legs were required in the shape of Urbanek for Borozni on 58 minutes.
 
However, by then Anif had also brought on a fresh striker and were revving up for the last half hour knowing that we had more or less punched ourselves out. Slowly we began to leave gaps, not being able to cover the ground, and Anif started putting together moves that hadn’t been possible in the first half and their number 20, Philip Scherz, began to rip holes in our defence. Wührer was on for Winkler on 67 minutes and more or less at the same time Enzenberger finally found a hole big enough to thread a ball through and Anif were on level terms at 1-1.
 
Reading the tickers on the Austria and SFV websites it looks like the game still remained very open, but my slightly alcoholically influenced impression of the last 20 minutes was that Anif were shaking our tree and we were hanging on for dear life. Maybe we did have the odd chance but the main thrust of the game was now going in the direction of Stefan Huber. At the end of the day the ref, Mr Brugger, managed to get through the 90 minutes without pulling out a single card. Ultimately, yellows and reds are like goals-against later in the season as you have to play games with three or four players on 1 and 2-game bans. Like all refs, he got some stuff right and other decisions wrong, but he allowed the game to flow without any pompous demonstrations of ‘I’m the man in charge’. On balance a 1-1 draw with no cards was a good result and we could get on with the rest of the evening without any tactical discussions.
 
Saturday was a good day. We got a fair result and I had a few beers without falling asleep on a barstool like I did a few weeks ago; and I was kindly picked up as well. But if Saturday was good, Sunday, to be honest, was even better. After having beaten the Red Bull Amateurs earlier in the season we had achieved one of the emotional goals set at the Austria Salzburg reboot; but that was against their Westliga youth team. However, on Sunday Blau-Weiss Linz did the whole of Austrian football a favour. BWL play in the same tier of Austrian football as we do, the third, just in another region –and are topping the table at the moment. Having endured a similar odyssey to that of Austria Salzburg, refounding a club swallowed (in their case) by their neighbours, starting at the bottom, battling their way through the divisions and being laughed at by all the opportunists who jumped ship so that they could keep watching Bundesliga football, Blau-Weiss – the reincarnation of the old Voest Linz – know all about what football means to a hardcore of fans who see football as more than just a clean plastic seat, expensive merchandising deals and mindless commercialism.
 
Blau-Weiss Linz, a mostly amateur club from the third division, beat Red Bull’s first team, last year’s Austrian Bundesliga champions, 3-1 in the Austrian cup. It was the result that by divine right would have fallen to Austria Salzburg to execute. King Arthur slays the dragon. Blau-Weiss would probably have preferred to beat LASK Linz, their own dragon, but who cares? Any dragon will do. Congratulations to Blau-Weiss Linz. In German there is a perfect word for that sensation of malicious joy when something bad happens to bad people – ‘Schadenfreude’. It was a fantastic result and made a good Sunday great.
 
SV Austria Salzburg - USK Anif 1-1 (1-0)
 
Austria Salzburg played with:
Huber; Kreuzwirth, Schmidt, Milic, Hirsch; Borozni (58. Urbanek), Kletzl (78. Federer), Reifeltshammer, N. Mayer; Winkler (67. Wührer), Vujic
 
Goals:
1-0: Mayer (39.) (Assist: Vujic)
1-1: Enzenberger (67.)
 
Shots: Austria 15 / Anif 13
Shots on target: Austria 4 / Anif 5
Shots blocked: Austria 2 / Anif 2
Corners: Austria 3 / Anif 5
Fouls: Austria 26 / Anif 20
Offsides: Austria 3 / Anif 3
 
Yellow Cards:
none
 
Salzburg-Maxglan, MyPhone-Austria-Stadion, 1400 spectators
Ref: Bernhard Brugger; Assistants: Wolfram Aufschnaiter, Sebastian Riedel


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