Hoffmann on losing his place, covid and his contract situation
Ron-Thorben Hoffmann lost his place in the first team to Anthony Patterson back in January following a bout with Covid and has remained sidelined thanks to the Sunderland academy product looking increasingly confident between the sticks.
In his latest column with German publication Kicker, Hoffmann describes his experience with the coronavirus and losing his place to Patterson.
The German goalkeeper also discusses the sacking of Lee Johnson and how close he is to the clause in his contract, to make the move to Sunderland permanent, kicking in.
The legendary saying of “Cobra” Jürgen Wegmann probably best describes my past weeks on the island. My last column was still about the booster in terms of table and Corona. In my 23 games as number 1, we’re averaging two points per game, I’m playing to nil a whopping nine times, and we’re at the top of the League One table. The third vaccination against the virus makes me feel good about my health. Everything is fine until ... yes, until the coronavirus hits my family and me after the turn of the year. But let’s take it one step at a time.
Despite the vaccinations on November 27, 2021, we are struggling with quite a few symptoms starting on January 6. And it also hits us many of my teammates more or less. Although according to the regulations we could have postponed our upcoming games, the team has to play. And it’s not going well, we’re dropping very important points by drawing 3-3 with Wycombe and 1-3 to Lincoln.
I myself am coming back after seven days of quarantine. But another test on the eighth day is positive. Nevertheless, I play the following day and after a negative test this time against Accrington. We don’t want to win, the game ends 1:1. I don’t feel well, I feel a tightness in my chest and my energy level is completely down. Nevertheless, I put in a good performance on the pitch and the next game is a great win against Portsmouth and 2nd place in the table. However, I am physically anything but at 100 percent, but of course I want to help the team.
One week later, the big crash. We lost 6-0 away to Bolton and everything that could go wrong did go wrong, while the opponents did everything well. Our coach Lee Johnson is fired surprisingly for all of us. It was he who brought me to Sunderland. A bad omen for what is to come?
First, we’ll get the legend Jermain Defoe on Deadline Day. 40,000 spectators want to see the former Tottenham star, who then ended his career at the end of March, in the stadium. And they go home disappointed: without a coach and without any game ideas, we lose 1:2 to Doncaster and slip to third place in the table.
I myself am physically worse and worse; shortness of breath, dizzy spells, aching limbs, headaches and chills have joined the existing symptoms. I speak to my goalkeeper coach and say that I no longer feel able to play and adequately support the team. A few days later, I am sent to Munich for examinations and treatment.
By mid-February, I am finally fit again. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the club. We have slipped down the table, are in 7th place, and a new coach is in place. He’s pursuing a different concept and I’m taking a seat on the bench together with my teammate Leon Dajaku, with whom I came from Germany. Whew.
After the physical misery thanks to Corona, I now have to cope with a new situation. Everyone knows that, especially in soccer, only the here and now counts. Despite strong performances, there’s currently no chance for me to get back in goal. At the same time, it would only have taken two games to 25 for the joint purchase option to take effect in the event of promotion and to play for SAFC in the long term. Such an experience is brutal, but part of the soccer business.
How do I deal with it? Like any professional, I want to play. And I want to do it here, right up in the northeast of England, at this legendary and, in a positive sense, “crazy club.” We’re currently in 6th place - which would qualify us for the playoffs. I was brought in to help us get promoted, also with my experience from FC Bayern. That’s my commitment. Above all, our unique fans deserve this, because they are already Champions League-ready.
I’m training hard, doing lots of extra sessions to keep myself in top shape and prepare for the next step. Let’s see what’s still to come.
Bent on Cana
Lorik Cana only lasted one season at Sunderland before surprisingly departing for Turkish outfit Galatasaray.
The former Albanian international captained the club during the 2009/10 season and had started off extremely well before his performances dipped in the second half of the season.
During an episode of Ben Foster’s podcast The Fozcast, ex-Sunderland striker Darren Bent gave an insight as to why Cana’s performances could not last the entire season and why he ended up leaving the club:
So we had Lorik Cana, we bought him from Marseille. This guy for the first six months was like Action Man. Captain, he was doing everything.
We were going to 10 men, made no difference, he was like N’Golo Kante, mopping up, headers, tackles.
Got to Christmas time, January time and he just went to Steve Bruce’s office and went “Do you know what, I can’t do it any more”. His body just packed in, he gave it everything in the first half of the season, battered himself.
He went “It’s probably best you sell me maybe because I can’t do it any more.”
So that was it, we never saw him again the second half of the season. Came on here and there but just couldn’t get to that intensity.
The first half of the season, man possessed.
You can listen to the full podcast with Darren Bent by pressing play on the video below.