BERLIN (Reuters) - Former champions Werder Bremen battled relegation for the first half of the Bundesliga season but a four-game winning streak, including Sunday’s 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen, has turned their campaign around.
Werder’s fine run of form has moved them up to eighth in the standings, with new coach Viktor Skripnik re-instilling a winning mentality at the 2004 German champions.
Under Skripnik, who took charge in late November and is assisted by former Bremen midfielder Torsten Frings, Werder have won five of eight league games, losing two and drawing one.
“We are now in an attractive position,” Skripnik told reporters. “It’s a fantastic thing but we still want to improve, we want to become better and prove it every week.”
Werder have done exactly that during Skripnik’s time in charge and his side have beaten Champions League clubs Borussia Dortmund and Leverkusen in their last four games.
The 45-year-old Ukrainian coach, who played for Werder from 1996-2004, has transformed the club’s fortunes despite not having money to spend on players like rivals Hamburg SV.
Instead, Skripnik has brought out the best of his existing players, something his predecessor Robin Dutt failed to achieve.
Argentine striker Franco Di Santo has been in sensational form in recent weeks, while 20-year-old Davie Selke has been a revelation this season and his stunning volley against Leverkusen on Sunday left Werder fans dreaming of Europe.
However, Skripnik believes his side have work to do before qualifying for Europe becomes a reality.
“We continue to look down and not up,” he said. “We want to continue developing and will work meticulously to do it.”
With high-flying Augsburg travelling to Bremen on Saturday, Werder will have every chance to prove their current form is no fluke.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Michael Hann