In keeping with FC Zürich's underwhelming campaign, the January arrival of experienced Switzerland defender Ludovic Magnin has failed to rouse the Super League champions.
Magnin ended an eight-year spell in the Bundesliga with Werder Bremen and VfB Stuttgart when he returned to his homeland at the beginning of the year. The hope was that the two-time German title winner could draw on the experience gained in the Bundesliga and from 61 international appearances to help halt Zürich's faltering season and inspire a late charge for European qualification.
Such was the optimism that greeted his arrival that Fredy Bickel, Zürich's sporting director, was looking forward to seeing "a leader on and off the pitch". However Magnin, like his team, has struggled to reach the heights anticipated in the second half of a season which reached its tipping point on Monday when coach Bernard Challandes was dismissed.
"I haven't lived up to expectations and I'm mad with myself," said Magnin frankly when asked about his 12 league appearances so far. While summarising his form as "average", the defender, who counts FC Lugano and Yverdon-Sport FC among his former clubs, is optimistic of good times ahead, however. "There's lots of room for improvement," he added, a reference to both his and Zürich's performances.
Magnin believes FCZ are too strong to be languishing in seventh place in the ten-team league, 27 points behind leaders FC Basel 1893 with five games left, but is fully aware of what is needed to reverse the slump. "We have to train, work and go full throttle," he said.
The same could be also be said for his national team prospects. Eintracht Frankfurt's Christoph Spycher seemed to be ahead of Magnin in the running for the left-back position at the FIFA World Cup, but as he is now injured the Zürich man could find himself back in favour with Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld. Magnin has learned not to look too far ahead, however, saying: "Firstly I must perform for FCZ and be a real leader."
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