Struggling giant Werder Bremen on the edge

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Nothing less than a miracle is necessary to rescue one of Germany's most successful football clubs.

After 56 years in the first-tier, Bundesliga founding member, Werder Bremen finds itself dangerously close to the edge of the abyss.

On the eve of their potentially do-or-die clash against rivals Cologne, the Green and Whites are two points off the safety zone.

The gradual downfall of the four-time Bundesliga winners and six-time Cup winner started in 2010.

Being relegated to the second division for the second time in the club's history, the first time coming in 1979, is going to set a new all-time low for the 2004 Europa League winner. The Club, and their home region, are said to be trapped in a shock-like state.

While the side from the seaport city managed to return to glory in 1981, things have significantly changed in today's football.

The dependency on TV money has developed the question of survival. Sponsorship and TV money income are said to drop by 50 million in the second division. The way back for struggling clubs has become a nearly impossible task.

The tragic descent of several other clubs might hint at Bremen's future. Once famous sides like 1. FC Kaiserslautern, VfB Stuttgart, and Hamburger SV failed to return to their former glory after being relegated, largely due a significantly lower budget upon returning.

For decades Bremen had been the keenest challengers to perennial leaders Bayern Munich. Famous coaches such as Otto Rehhagel (1981 - 1995) and Thomas Schaaf (1999 - 2013) led Werder into golden times.

Now the region's proud flagship is treading water. Current coach, Florian Kohfeldt, spoke about "emotional emptiness." Players opened up about the "complete silence" in the locker room after the team had gambled away its last chance to gain essential points in the fight against relegation by losing 3-1 to Mainz.

The reasons for Bremen's downward trend seem diverse. One of the critical points is assumedly the so-called Champions League trap.

Budgets rose to new heights after Werder consistently qualified for the Champions League over a long period. Unfortunately, decisions regarding the playing staff triggered a fatal downswing.

Financial turbulences increased after the club's arena was rebuilt in 2011. Werder had to take out a credit loan to make payments on unexpected costs.

Sporting failures worsened the crisis. The side lost its status as one of the leading teams and could only achieve mediocre results. The club failed to address the still high expectations among its supporters.

None of the coaches succeeding Rehhagel or Schaaf managed to establish any kind of consistency.

Now the 37-year-old Kohfeldt is under fire, as are managing director Marco Bode and CEO Frank Baumann. Bremen's former sports director Willi Lemke demanded a debate about the future of all parties involved.

The 73-year-old former interior minister of the federal city-state of Bremen said every stone must be overturned to find a solution in securing a fresh start. 

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