Reinhard Saftig appointed coach

Reinhard Saftig becomes new coach at Bayer 04. After Borussia Dortmund, Hannover 96 and VfL Bochum, Bayer 04 is his fourth appointment as head coach. His minimum target is qualifying for the UEFA Cup. Peter Hermann is the assistant coach. Head coach Saftig brings in new signings Christian Wörns from Mannheim, Markus Happe from Münster, Stephan Hanke from Schwetzingen and Josef Nehl (from September 1991) from Bochum. René Rydlewicz, Markus von Ahlen and Matthias Stammann move up to the first team squad from the youth teams and reserve side. The Brazil international Jorginho is appopinted captain by the coach.

© Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fussball GmbH

Back row left to right: Rene Rydlewicz, Christian Wörns, coach Reinhard Saftig, Markus Happe, Marko Schröder; front row left to right: Markus von Ahlen, Matthias Stammann, Stephan Hanke

Mammoth season

The Bundesliga is increased to 20 clubs due to reunification. The two top teams in the final GDR Oberliga season Hansa Rostock and Dynamo Dresden are promoted to the top flight alongside promoted clubs from the second division, Schalke 04, MSV Duisburg and Stuttgart Kickers. This season is the one and only time 38 matchday's been played. At the end for teams will be relegated to return to 18 Bundesliga clubs in the top division for the 1992/93 season.

Eighth at the winter break

The first half of the season proves to be satisfactory. The Bayer team have a run of ten games without defeat but there are not enough wins in this phase with four victories accompanying six draws. Goalkeeper Rüdiger Vollborn, libero Franco Foda, the two centre-backs Martin Kree and Christian Wörns plus full backs Matthias Stammann and Andreas Fischer form a solid defence. The midfield around Romania international Ioan Lupescu and the outstanding Brazilian captain Jorginho is impressive. Unfortunately, central striker Ulf Kirsten picks up an injury on matchday seven. Andreas Thom and Heiko Herrlich cannot compensate for the missing goals from Kirsten. The eleven game absence of Kirsten due to injury hits the team hard and prevents achieving a higher position after the first half of the season.

Derby in the Cup

The highlight of the first half of the season is the Cup derby against FC Köln. The two Rhine rivals meet in Leverkusen in the third round proper. An almost capacity crowd of 20,000 witnesses a typical local derby at the Ulrich Haberland Stadium. A goalless first half and balanced game is followed by Bayer 04 taking more and more control in the second 45. Andrzej Buncol makes it 1-0 on 65 minutes and Andreas Fischer doubled the lead five minutes later unleashing boundless celebrations in the team and throughout the stadium. Bayer 04 receive enthusiastic support to the end and go through to the last 16.

© Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fussball GmbH

Andreas Fischer’s day

On seven December, the second matchday after the winter break, SG Wattenscheid 09 visit Leverkusen. Central striker Ulf Kirsten is finally back after an injury-layoff and along with right back Andreas Fischer who has another great game. 'Fischi' scores the second and third goals in the first half after JUpp Nehl open the scoring. Bayer 04 are on fire and after Wattenscheid pull a goal back in the second half the hosts move up a gear. Andreas Fischer again and a brace from Ulf Kirsten secure a 6-1 win, which was the highest Bundesliga victory for Bayer 04 at the time.

© Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fussball GmbH

Second half of the season goes well - almost at the end

Win follows win, interrupted by two draws in Bremen and Düsseldorf. A week after the Wattenscheid game, Bayer beat Stuttgarter Kickers 3-1 at home and the start to the New Year after the winter break begins with a 2-1 win at Duisburg. Karlsruhe SC (2-0), and the Rostock (3-0) and Schalke 04 (2-1) the the Ulrich Haberland Stadium empty-handed. The team is euphoric after nine games without defeat and they mount the fence to celebrate with the fans after the game. They are in fourth place and close to qualifying for the UEFA Cup. Bayer 04 are in that position with five games to go albeit three matches against title challengers Eintracht Frankfurt, Borussia Dortmund and VfB Stuttgart. After defeats against Frankfurt, Dortmund and also Nürnberg, Bayer 04 definitely need a win to qualify for the UEFA Cup. With the score at 1-1, VfB's Matthias Sammer is shown a red card. The results elsewhere mean that only a win for both sides will help. VfB are battling with Dortmund for the title. Reinhard Saftig's team needs a helping hand and a victory. A helping hand from Schalke 04 who are playing against FC Kaiserslautern, Bayer 04 rivals for a UEFA Cup place, and the get it with a 2-0 lead on 74 minutes. Now only a win will do. Both Stuttgart and Bayer 04 are only thinking of attack and Bayer 04 have a great chance to go 2-1 up through Markus von Ahlen but he fails to score. The game is settled at the other end by Guido Buchwald. The goal on 86 minutes brings VfB the German title. Bayer 04 Leverkusen again miss the chance to qualify for the UEFA Cup thereby missing out on the season target.

Drama in Mönchengladbach

The DFB Cup semi-final between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach is on 7 April 1991. After the win in the derby against FC Köln, Bayer 04 met amateur league outfit SSV Reutlingen going through after a tough battle with 83-to win after extra time. At the quarter-final stage the forthcoming champions of Germany VfB Stuttgart are overcome 1-0 in extra time. Now comes the Cup tie at the Bökelberg. After 90 minutes the score is 1-1. Libero Franco Foda sent off on 65 minutes meaning Bayer 04 had to play the remaining 25 minutes and extra time with a man less. Borussia Mönchengladbach take a 2-1 lead on 95 minutes but the battling Bayer 04 team were able to equalise a minute from the end with the strike from Andreas Thom. It comes down to a penalty shootout that proved to be a drama. The skipper Jorginho, Heiko Herrlich, Ioan Lupescu and Martin Kree all failed to beat the Borussia keeper Uwe Kamps. Even the two penalties missed by Gladbach are to no avail. Bayer 04 go out in the semi-finals for a second time after 1989 and again miss out on the trip to Berlin.

© Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fussball GmbH

The Bayer end at the Cup semi-final in Mönchengladbach.