Norbert Meier takes charge at Arminia Bielefeld
Arminia Bielefeld have confirmed that Norbert Meier is to be the man charged with the task of guiding ‘Die Blauen’ to safety, with a contract until the end of the season. The announcement came on Monday just hours following the confirmation that former coach Stefan Kramer had been released from the club.
Norbert Meier’s first game in charge will be on Friday night against his previous club Fortuna Dusseldorf whom he led in a 5 year stint from 2008 until 2013, stating of the game “It’s something special, where you have your living room to dispute the first game”. Meier takes charge with Bielefeld in a precarious position sitting in the relegation zone five points away from safety, a situation Meier is acutely aware of “We have one goal: survival,” proclaimed Meier. “We can only achieve that together.”
At Dusseldorf, Meier had a successful start to his tenure by winning promotion from the inaugural 3.Liga season. Following a season of consolidation in the 2.Bundesliga challenging near the top of the table, Meier led Dusseldorf to promotion to the Bundesliga 2011/12 via a playoff win against Hertha Berlin. Previous to this Meier had also led MSV Duisburg to promotion from the 2.Bundesliga in the 2004/05 season.
It is the proven history of success at this level that Arminia fans will be hoping Meier brings to the club to help turn around their poor run of results this season. Speaking of the task ahead of him, Meier said “In the next two and a half months, all that matters is Arminia and we will work hard from today to achieve our objective,”
The appointment of Meier signals a shift in the character of the coach at Arminia from the previously relatively unknown Kramer. Meier has comes to job not only as a noted coach but also a renowned player having been part of Otto Rehhagel’s successful sides of the 1980’s which earned him 16 international caps and a place in the 1984 European championship squad.
A further contrast between the two coaches is while Kramer was perceived as having a positive, relaxed demeanor as a coach while Meier is seen as a more intense manager. This is highlighted by an incident in the Bundesliga in 2005 where Meier head-butted Köln player Albert Streit before imitating a fall to the ground himself. This resulted in a fine and three month suspension from coaching, ultimately culminating in Duisburg terminating his contract.
This shows a more ruthless desire to win which perhaps Arminia have lacked since their promotion to the 2.Bundesliga. This drive added to his track record may have been the factors that attracted Arminia to Meier. Speaking of the appointment DSC Sporting director Samir Arabi “The decision to appoint a new head coach position, we have not done easily but it weighed very carefully”, adding “We are pleased to have with Norbert Meier quickly found a successor to Stefan Krämer, which all of us are convinced by.”
With little over two months left in the season, there is limited time to turn around the club’s fortunes. However with Meier they could not have found a better replacement at this point in the season. It will be a fascinating story to see if Meier can in fact steer the club to safety by season’s end.