Well as far as ways go to start the weekend this officially sucks, Jogi week hasn’t even started and it’s already ruined because he is not going to be there. I always hate the season ending but this time I didn’t mind so much, not because I had a tournament to look forward to (and thus plenty of Jogi watching guaranteed) but training camp in Venlo is good second best. At least it would have been. And for once I was the last to know, which is just typical. Yesterday just had to be the day I was behind the curve news wise. I can’t believe that my mother decided this was something I didn’t need to be woken for, that she waited seven hours to tell me. Still at least she did risk my wrath and tell me, and not let me find out from the news.
It doesn’t completely ruin my plans for next week, I can still do almost everything that I planned. And Matze will be there, so that’s something. It doesn’t however solve the dilemma I have, namely what to title the posts and videos from the match itself. For the game Jogi was banished (because of his sending off and behaviour during the Austria game) in Euro 2008 Hansi took the helm, and I put both their names in the video title, but only Jogi’s name in the post. But that was different, Jogi was at the game and there are pictures of him, hence keeping the title the same. Now it’s different, if Hansi were there it would be much simpler. I would happily put his name in the title. With Marcus it’s different, I like him but he’s not Hansi. Still it could be worse, at least it’s Marcus taking the helm and not Schneider.
In the post-season lull whilst I’ve been waiting for the international break I’ve been watching a lot of TV, and I’ve started watching a show I said I’d never watch, The Good Doctor. I’ve seen one episode of it previously, the one where the patient is autistic (and he’s played by an autistic actor) and the parents don’t want Shaun operating on their son. That was enough for me, or so I thought. I don’t know why I started watching it, curiosity and a lot of free time I guess. Either way I don’t hate it quite as much as I expected. I like Richard Schiff in it, but I knew that would happen. I don’t love Dr Glassmann as much as I loved Toby in the West Wing of course, but I like him.
There are plenty of things I hate about the show, plenty of things I hated in the first episode actually, not least the constant description of autism as a “mental disorder.” For fuck’s sake they work in a hospital and they don’t know autism is a DEVELOPMENTAL DISORDER. And they way they debated over whether or not hiring an autistic doctor or not is acceptable was simply disgusting. In that later episode with the parents of the autistic child who don’t like Shaun, all I could think was would you let a patient refuse a perfectly qualified surgeon because they were uncomfortable with them being a woman, black, Jewish or a wheelchair user?
Even so I like Shaun, and whilst I do hate the fact the show reinforces lots of stereotypes I can’t deny I can relate to him, so they must be doing something right. The scene where Shaun flips out over losing his screwdriver and calls Dr Glassmann is just so typically autistic it’s funny. Funny because I knew how Shaun was going to react when Dr Glassmann said he could just buy a new one. He flipped out, and I would have too, Because you don’t want a replacement, only the original is good enough and you can’t accept anything less. It’s also funny because that’s happened to me many a time, both losing something and flipping out because I can’t find it and finding it in a real stupid place.
Some of it however is painful to watch, not because it’s bad, rather because it hits too close to home. Like when Shaun doesn’t want to accept any help from a stranger and refuses to meet the therapist. I understand how he feels about that, deep down he knows he needs help but doesn’t want it from someone new, that he doesn’t know or trust. It’s so frustrating when someone tells you that you can say no, yet when you do they don’t listen, been there too. Dr Glassmann didn’t know it then but he had overstepped his mark. He should have realised that at the point he said he had tried and failed to talk to Shaun and to bribe him. You can’t and don’t bribe a fully competent adult to do anything, and despite his difficulties and vulnerabilties that’s what Shaun is. You can’t tell an autistic (or otherwise disabled adult) that they have the right to make their own decisions, and then go and override any decision they try to make.
Despite all the things I find frustrating about the show I can’t stop watching, Yet every episode I watch I can’t stop thinking about the fact it perpuates a very annoying stereotype, namely the fact that every so called high functioning autistic person has a super high IQ and is an excellent visual thinker. Now those are some myths that need to die a long overdue death, but I don’t think they’re going anywhere if the ignorance I’ve encountered on the internet is anything to go by. That said I do like the fact that the show makes it clear Shaun is both able and disabled, I like the fact he’s for lack of a better way to put it “visibly autistic.” That’s important because in real life people make the assumption that if a person is visibly autistic in the way Shaun is that they are learning disabled, usually non-verbal and can’t live independently, let alone be a doctor. Same as I like the fact Shaun visibly struggles to answer questions and communicate verbally, but can express himself just fine once he’s started speaking. I’m sick of autistic characters who are hyper verbal, have perfect speech and use that voice to lecture other characters at length – like Sherlock for example. I know some autistic people do sound that way, but the way the media portrays autism it’s like autistic people are either hyper verbal or non-verbal. And they don’t seem to understand that a lack of speech doesn’t mean a lack of intelligence, which unfortunately is something that society can’t quite grasp either.
It’s easy to get disillusioned with football these days, and I don’t just mean the big stuff like the corruption, the ridiculously huge (and ever growing) transfer fees and the domination of the big teams. Not to mention the fact the past year has kind of sucked, Germany are “re-building,” the DFB continue to screw up and make stupid decisions (their latest mishap being to align themselves with Volkswagen – yeah, because that’s totally a good image for the national team) and Freiburg escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth. But every once in a while something comes along that reminds you why you fell in love with the game to begin with, this season that thing is Union Berlin.
Despite all of that I was really looking forward to the relegation play-offs this year, because it felt like it wouldn’t be the formality it’s been in previous seasons. Whether it was Union Berlin or Paderborn that ended up in third place Stuttgart have been so bad this season it seemed a pretty good bet that either of the former had a really good chance of winning the tie. As things turned out it was Union Berlin who finished in third and had to face VfB Stuttgart. I was rooting for them for more than one reason, first of all I always root for the opposition against Stuttgart, secondly Union are a really cool team with a terrific set of fans and thirdly their crazy goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz used to play for Freiburg. Well he only actually played three games for Freiburg but two of them were really important games.
Rafal played three times for Freiburg, twice in the league and once in the DFB Pokal. He came on to replace Schwolow when he was injured in the Leipzig game, and took his place in the following game against Dortmund. He played in the second round of the DFB Pokal in a 3-1 win over Dynamo Dresden. The Dortmund game is memorable especially for being the one in which Freiburg took the lead (through two Petersen goals) and kept it until the third minute of extra time when Dortmund equalised. That second Petersen goal was voted as goal of the season on Sportschau. Rafal himself is well acquainted with late goals in extra time, for he scored one himself for Union Berlin against 1.FC Heidenheim earlier this season. He’s a great keeper (the 14 clean sheets he’s kept this season show that), something he didn’t get to showcase much at Freiburg. So I’m happy he’s found a place at Union Berlin, not least because it gives me an extra excuse to watch them.
As I mentioned above, the relegation play-offs can feel like something of a formality, they tend to go only one way. In the past ten years a 2.Bundesliga side has won the relegation play-off just twice, 1.FC Nürnberg and Fortuna Düsseldorf being the two teams. Of course both those teams had previously been in the top flight, whereas for Union it’s the first time ever. The odds are obviously stacked in favour of the Bundesliga team, but this year’s play-off has proved that sometimes karma does work. Because Stuttgart truly deserved to get relegated and Union deserved to be promoted. Stuttgart have been so consistently terrible that relegation is no surprise, the only reason they weren’t relegated directly is that Hannover and 1.FCN have simply been worse.
Funny how things end up, Stuttgart and Hannover were relegated together in 2016, promoted together in 2017 and now once again in 2019 are relegated together. 1.FCN on the other hand return to the 2. Bundesliga after just one season in the top flight. Something which SC Paderborn know all about. At the moment Paderborn are the living embodiment of fairy tale football. Promoted to the Bundesliga for the first time ever in 2014, then relegated in 2015. That was followed by relegation from the 2. Bundesliga and then from the 3.Liga. It’s only thanks to 1860 Munich’s troubles that they weren’t playing in fourth tier of German football in 2017. They made good use of their reprieve and earned promotion back to the 2.Bundesliga.
And now after five years away they’ll be in the Bundesliga again, for the second time in their history. How long they’ll get to stay there I don’t know, I expect they’ll be top of everyone’s lists for potential relegation candidates. Hopefully they’ll be better prepared this time, and won’t self destruct quite so spectacularly should that happen. Union Berlin, I wouldn’t like to make any predictions there. They played well in the DFB Pokal against Borussia Dortmund, that’s true. But there’s a big difference between doing that once and playing in the Bundesliga every week against such teams. Whatever happens I’m sure their fans will enjoy it and that they’ll be a terrific addition to the league.
Weird thing is I dreamt about Stuttgart’s coach yesterday, I don’t remember why I was talking to him or where I was, but I remember what I was saying. I was asking him if he could talk without giving a motivational speech every time he opened his mouth. Which I suppose kind of summons up the arrogance of Stuttgart, they thought with few motivational speeches and battle spirit they could get through it. But all those millions spent and they couldn’t defeat Union Berlin, they didn’t lose either game but they didn’t win either. They just didn’t do enough, too little too late – which pretty much sums up their whole season.
Meanwhile Union have some celebrating to do, something they got started with the second the game ended as the pictures below show. The first picture is of their delightful mascot, who very fittingly is a knight. A knight who it seems can’t quite believe his new Bundesliga status: