German cameras are capturing 1860 Munich's implosion from within

As it typically does, it started so promising but ended in tears. On Saturday afternoon, one of the many teenage talents, 19-year-old Maximilian Wittek, brought 1860 Munich ahead with a fantastic left-footed strike.

The shot was perfectly timed in more sense than one, given that the club's Jordanian investor, Hasan Ismaik, who only rarely watches the team play, had just taken his seat in the stands, 25 minutes after 1860's game against Karlsruhe kicked off.

If Ismaik has spent the past few weeks wondering why the club he, by and large, saved from bankruptcy almost four years ago is still treading water, the second half gave him plenty of hints. Karlsruhe tied the game on the hour mark, and it was this goal that rattled the young 1860 team so much the visitors quickly added two more.

So the Lions, as most people call Munich's other side, lost their third match in a row and remained in 16th place, just a few months after the team's coach had looked into a camera and said, "We have to win the league. That's all."

Optimism, aspiration and hope -- all dashed before Christmas. Every 1860 fan has been here before, so you could say it's just a normal, heartbreaking season for a club that has been mired in the second division for more than 10 years -- longer than anyone else in the league.

But this is not a normal season because this time 1860's fans can follow the heartbreak at home, up close and in high definition.

Back in early summer, Sky Germany contacted all 36 clubs from the top two divisions to see whether they would be interested in an unusual idea. The subscription channel wanted to follow one team for an entire season and produce a four-part, behind-the-scenes documentary along the lines of 2012's fly-on-the-wall series, "Being: Liverpool".

The reply from 35 clubs: No way. 1860 Munich said: Sounds interesting.

More precisely, the men who agreed to allow cameras into the inner sanctum were CEO Markus Rejek, director of football Gerhard Poschner and Dutch coach Ricardo Moniz. None of the three had been in his post for more than five months when they decided to grant filmmaker Jurgen Muller unprecedented access.

"We want to move forward courageously in all aspects, and this project is part of that," Poschner said in July. "Even if we may have to gulp in case of a string of defeats. There are many facets to football -- not only joy, but also suffering."

At the time, the idea of an intimate, warts-and-all look at 1860 Munich must have been enticing. Rejek and Poschner had been brought in to rebuild the club. The plan was to create a young and exciting team that would finally offer Munich's football fans an antidote to the Bayern juggernaut.

In the first part of the documentary, which aired in mid-October, even the fervent 1860 supporter Fritz Fehling, who hasn't missed a league game since 1972, tells director Muller: "Why should a 7- or 8-year-old boy go and watch 1860 these days?" It's this tired resignation that Rejek and Poschner set out to breach.

In the summer, the outlook was good. The camera follows 1860's Spanish contingent -- veteran centre-back Guillermo Vallori and the young new signings Ilie Sanchez and Eduardo Bedia -- as they explore downtown Munich.

Taking the tube, the trio sits down next to a mother with her small boy. Of course, the kid is wearing a Bayern shirt. When the mother asks about the camera crew and Vallori, who speaks German well, explains he and his companions are playing for 1860 Munich, the boy stares in utter disbelief, stunned he's just met real-life professional footballers on an underground train.

It's moments such as these that make you think 1860's plan could work, that the club could be the young and groovy alternative to Bayern's pomp and glamour. Suddenly, it also begins to make sense that they signed the hyperactive Moniz.

When you see the coach for the first time, in the documentary's opening sequence, he is holding a football in both hands. He then begins to repeatedly bang it against his head. In his second appearance, he uses an English expletive you'll soon learn he's very fond of. When you encounter him for the third time, he tells Muller his aim is not the sixth place finish the club speaks of but nothing less than promotion.

Yes, Moniz comes across as borderline batty. But during the film's first half-hour, you're beginning to sense he's trying to shake up a club that has become comatose, battered into submission by too many false dawns.

That's also why he handed the captain's armband to Julian Weigl, a then-18-year-old midfielder. Needless to say, this made Weigl the youngest skipper in the club's long history. It was a gamble, of course, but what better way to prove you want to go with youth and trust the kids?

The camera was right there in 1860's dressing room in the minutes before the season opener in Kaiserslautern. When Moniz said, "We're in fantastic shape," reminding his players the most important thing is they enjoy the game, you wanted to believe the gamble would pay off. For 45 minutes, it did. The young Lions took a 2-0 lead against an opponent who had been reduced to 10 men.

"Being: Liverpool," the film from which Sky Germany took inspiration, ends with the first game of the new campaign. It basically only chronicles a professional team's preseason preparations, and by the time it aired, people knew the season hadn't gone well. That's what prompted Sam Wollaston, the TV critic for the Guardian, to say, "It's like sitting down on 15 May, 1912, to watch a documentary about the building of the Titanic."

But the 1860 film detailed the building of the Titanic and then climbed on board for the maiden voyage, too. What Muller's cameras capture is not the rejuvenation of 1860 Munich but what could easily shape up to be the most depressing and chaotic season in recent memory. The Lions hoped they would finally reach the promised land, then they hit an iceberg.

Typical 1860 luck, one is tempted to say.

Incredibly, the team managed to throw away their two-goal lead and lose the opening game 3-2. Then they were defeated at home by Leipzig. After that match, captain Weigl talked to the film crew and told them he would have a quiet dinner with his parents and then go home. But he was wrong. Poschner took Weigl aside and wanted to have a word with the young man.

It's the moment when the first -- but certainly not last -- major crisis of the young season unravels. Poschner learned Weigl and three teammates were out on the town until 2:30 in the morning four days before the game. The kid was stripped of the captain's armband, and all four players were temporarily suspended.

This quartet was joined by goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly, sanctioned for physically attacking a teammate during the Leipzig game and soon offloaded to England. Five weeks after these disciplinary measures, Moniz was fired. We were still only in September, and 1860's season was already coming apart at the seams.

When the first part of the documentary premiered at a small Munich cinema Oct. 16, 1860's CEO Rejek jokingly said, "We must have been drunk when we shook hands on the deal." Then he added, "We knew about the risks. But the documentary is also a chance to authentically present the Lions -- knowing that we would get punched in the face."

However, when Rejek said that, it was still fairly early in the season, and it might have seemed his Lions were merely having a rocky start. After all, clubs such as Nurnberg and Braunschweig were also struggling, and a promotion place was only seven points away.

But in the two months since, things have become worse. The team has lost seven of 10 league games since Markus von Ahlen took over from Moniz, and many observers doubt he will still be at the helm come the winter break.

Then there's the turmoil off the pitch. In October, veteran Markus Steinhofer was sent to the reserves; he hasn't played for the first team since. In November, Brazilian winger Leonardo was released from his contract. In December, Kicker magazine reported the young U.S. international Bobby Wood has been alienated by Von Ahlen and was asking for a transfer.

Let's not forget the club member showering 1860's board with lawsuits, trying to dethrone president Gerhard Mayrhofer. Or investor Ismaik, whose appearance at the Karlsruhe game made the Munich newspaper Abendzeitung wonder how safe Poschner's job is.

Even by 1860's generous standards, that's pandemonium. And it's all played out in front of a camera. Part two of "57, 58, 59, Sechzig," the Lions documentary, will be broadcast Monday.