ACT 2: A FRESH START
The Season in 05 Acts - A Review
After a disappointing and unglamorous first phase of the season, which was characterised by bankruptcies, bad luck and mishaps, the Zerofivers were faced with a new sporting start at the turn of the year - and relied on concentrated Mainz footballing DNA.
After the league defeat against Werder Bremen and the cup defeat against VfL Bochum, the club management decided to make a change. With long-time 05 manager Christian Heidel and ex-Mainz coach Martin Schmidt, two old acquaintances took over the sporting leadership at the Rheinhessen club. Jan-Moritz Lichte was released and Jan Siewert, head coach of Mainz's academy, took over first-team training on a transitional basis.
Courageous appearance in Munich
These were eventful and groundbreaking days at Bruchweg around Christmas, which should herald a time of new beginnings after the messed-up first half of the season. "We have the confidence to stay in the league, not only in theory, it is also possible in practice," said Heidel confidently at the beginning of his tenure and, together with Schmidt, formulated clear ideas and goals for the club right from the start. There was hardly any time for contemplative holidays, there was a lot to plan, the search for a new head coach was in full swing.
Everybody was pushing, everybody was digging in
In the match against Bayern Munich, however, interim coach Siewert was initially on the sidelines and knew how to surprise the reigning treble winners with his team. A two-goal lead after the first 45 minutes, the convincing Bundesliga debut of keeper Finn Dahmen and an overall courageous performance meant a step in the right direction - even if the record champions turned up the heat in the second period and won clearly 5-2 in the end. "We played one of the best halves of the season, everyone pushed themselves, everyone got stuck in," said debutant Dahmen after the match, in which the first half in particular gave a boost and brought praise.
Performance guarantee instead of result guarantee
One day later, all open questions around the vacant head coach position were settled: Bo Svensson, long-time player and youth coach in Mainz, returned, together with his assistant Babak Keyhanfar, from the Austrian second division club FC Liefering to the Bruchweg, signed a contract until 2024 and presented his long-term goals. "Just talking about the next few months does not correspond to my ideas. We have a common idea and a vision. It's about putting Mainz 05 on pillars that the fans and we can identify with. About which we can say: 'This is 100 per cent Mainz 05'".
In Mainz, there is never a guarantee of results. But there must be a performance guarantee
Clear ideas and a strict tactical plan should henceforth form the playful engine of the Zerofivers in difficult sporting times. "I stand for the Mainz virtues. It is also absolutely clear that we want to play intensively and dynamically. In Mainz, there is never a guarantee of results. But there must be a performance guarantee. And we will be tough and consistent," said the Dane, who was looking forward to a start with his team that could hardly have been more demanding: Frankfurt, Dortmund and Wolfsburg awaited the Zerofivers.
The first game was the Rhine-Main derby, which the Hessians won 2-0. One week later, Svensson's team made its first big statement at BVB: In the end, the Zerofivers ran almost ten kilometres more than the Dortmunders and thus earned a deserved point against the runners up of the previous season. The team gradually managed to bring the virtues mentioned by Svensson onto the pitch, commitment and will were right, even if the Mainz team still had a lot of work ahead of them, as the subsequent 2-0 defeat at the end of the first half against VfL Wolfsburg proved.
In addition, Jean-Philippe Mateta, Mainz's top scorer, left the club for England. In order to provide adequate replacements and additional reinforcement, the sporting management relied on loan deals in the winter transfer window. The Bundesliga-experienced Dominik Kohr and Danny Da Costa came from Frankfurt, Robert Glatzel transferred from Cardiff City to the Rhine - transfers that turned out to be real bull's-eyes, as the third part of our season review will show.