Photo courtesy of www.union-foto.de
At the end Tennis Borussia looked, to a man, shattered. They were broken, defeated. They used to be Bundesliga a while ago, and then again with a huge injection of fraudulent cash more recently – as Marlon Brando mumbled – they could've been contenders. As Willie Nelson said, "Ain't it funny how times slips away."
They sit second from bottom in the NOFV Oberliga Nord, having conceded nine more goals than the next team. Their former boss, Teddy Yildiz, left after the dispiriting loss to Reinickendorfer Füchse and the new one, Markus Schatte started his reign with a thumping 6-2 loss away at 1.FC Union's under 23's on Monday.
And it is worth remarking that 6-2 didn't flatter the hosts, and that Konstantin Filatow was actually rather good in the TeBe goal. Union were simply rampant. They were quicker and had more bite. Apart from a typical lunge from Yann Nkanga that almost cut Stephen Skrzybski in half, they barely closed Union down in the second half at all.
Apart from the opener – no one likes to see a 'keeper beaten at his near post by a free kick from distance – Filatow made some good stops. But his defence had given up the ghost, his midfield were doing their Hank Marvin impressions. Permanently staying in the shadows.
Skrzybski, you say? But didn't he just play the day before in the first team? Yeah, Shrbbbbbssccccchhhhiiii plays for everyone nowadays. The bonuses of youth, eh? Try squeezing that out of Mac Younga-Mouhani. He was excellent up front for Eisern. Strong and quick, with an unerring sense of where the goal is. He still missed a couple of chances, but by this point it didn't matter. The 3-2 half-time score line was misleading.
Bone Uaferro, the young central defender that has already made an appearance in the first team was dominant. He looks like a young Rio Ferdinand, he's so comfortable bringing the ball out on his toes. He was never flustered, never panicky. Even when he was at fault for TeBe's second goal, he looked so laid back and languorous it was almost joyful. Marcojan Behnert skipped past him just as gladly and finished sweetly through the legs of Kilian Pruschke.
That Behnert has come through TeBe's A youth team shows a great deal of promise, his finish was inch perfect. But that was Uaferro's only real mistake; he will play a big role for Union in the years to come as long as he can keep his life as laid back off the pitch as it is on it.
Theo Gries has really built a decent side in Köpenick with his youths. That they now sit in the heady heights of fifth in the league, when safety was all that was really expected after last year’s promotion is a real achievement. It will be a shame that he leaves at the end of the season, and I'm sure that the players who have developed so much under his tutelage will miss him.
But Tennis Borussia is in real trouble now. This won't disappoint the Unioner's terribly, but nobody likes to see a historic club struggling for their survival. TeBe should survive the 6th division, their fans are nothing if not passionate – they didn't stop singing the whole game – but it's a tough task.
Meanwhile the youths of Union move onwards, and as Christopher Quiring, Skrzybski and Uaferro have proved already this season could hold the answers to some of the tricky problems the first team may face next year in a second division with a renewed Hansa Rostock back to replace the derby feeling that will go up with Hertha, let alone St. Pauli and even, possibly Wolfsburg.