Ten months ago, Würzburger Kickers were promoted to the 2. Bundesliga on the slenderest of margins – a stoppage time penalty, scored by Sebastian Schuppan with the final kick of his career.
For the last two weeks, their survival was also on a cliff edge. If not for the mistake by Karlsruhe goalkeeper Marius Gersbeck that gifted them a stoppage time equaliser, they would have already been down.
Despite that, Würzburg were resigned to their fate going into the game against VfL Osnabrück. Perhaps they had already been resigned to it when they parted company with Bernhard Trares at the end of the last international break.
Even against the hopelessly out-of-form Osnabrück, they were second best for much of the contest. When Christian Santos headed the visitors in front early in the second half, it was far from undeserved for a side that had shown signs of their flourishing best from days gone by.
The hosts couldn’t be accused of a lack of effort. They had their good phases in the game, with Marvin Pieringer coming closest, hitting the bar midway through the second half, before Frank Ronstadt gave them hope with an excellent direct free-kick.
It was not to be though, with Osnabrück eventually regaining the lead through a comedic goal, Ulreich Taffortshofer winning the game of head tennis in the box. Ludovit Reis then made the three points safe, scoring after initially hitting the post.
Osnabrück live to fight another day, with fresh hope pumped into their survival battle when they had looked a lost cause. For Würzburg, it was irrelevant that their old man Fabio Kaufmann had earned a point for Eintracht Braunschweig given they themselves had lost.
The outcome has been inevitable for some time. The fact was they were not ready for a promotion few had expected, and the squad just wasn’t good enough to survive, despite signing countless players and going through the campaign with four different managers.
It’s difficult to see them coming straight back up again. Their bloating squad will need trimming and rebuilding, with many of the players signed over the past year likely to go.
The coaching situation will need resolving, with Ralf Santelli not expected to stay on. At boardroom level, chairman Daniel Sauer has announced his departure just this week and the future of Felix Magath at boardroom level needs clearing up as well.
The other teams at the bottom of the 2. Bundesliga will likely be much better prepared for a 3. Liga promotion challenge next season if they go down. But for the moment, Osnabrück don’t need to worry about that. They are just a point behind Braunschweig now and if they can get anything from the remaining games against Hamburg and Erzgebirge Aue, that might just be enough.