Werder Bremen have spent only one season outside the Bundesliga since it was launched in 1963 and while their run of 13 home matches without a win had left them deep in relegation, troubled club officials are not throwing in the towel.
Werder, who played more Bundesliga games (1,896) than any other team, were second from bottom with 25 points from 30 games, three points behind Fortuna Duesseldorf in the promotion-relegation playoff berth.
They were also six points away from safety – Mainz in 15th place.
Werder went down 1-0 at home to VfL Wolfsburg on Sunday and their next home game does not offer much hope – against Bayern Munich on June 16 where the leaders could secure the title.
But before that, Bremen traveled to bottom side Paderborn on Saturday and coach Florian Kohfeldt knew the turnaround must start there.
“We have four games to achieve the realistic goal of avoiding relegation. What gives us courage – as strange as it may sound – is the … table. We are not seven or eight points behind, but only three. And we still have four games, so you can catch up three points,” the 37-year-old said.
Frank Baumann, the clubs’ sporting director, had not lost faith in his young coach.
“I think our chances are still alive, but the bottom line is that only the results count. We’ll give everything and fight until the last game,” he added.
Bremen won the last of their four championships in 2004 and narrowly missed out on a Europa League place last season.
Kohfeldt said he expected Milot Rashica to return from an ankle injury and Niclas Feullkrug was also set to return next week for the first time since September.
The 27-year-old made a good start to the season with two goals and one assist in the first four games before suffering a cruciate ligament injury.
“It’s the strikers who we are looking to, to make the difference,” the coach added.