Schwarz: "We stopped at nothing"
The Zerofiver’s trainer praised the group mentality of his players and looks towards the final run-in before the winter break: “We have three games where we can give ourselves a good end to the calendar year.”
In the first training session after the turbulent 1-1 against Hannover 96, the Mainz players gave a clear signal. The intensity of the session made it obvious to the coach that the frustration from the draw at the weekend had been put behind them. Instead the side showed a “craving”, as Sandro Schwarz expressed, “to put in a powerful performance and show the mentality that they want better things.” The 40-year-old discussed the three remaining games before the winter break.
“We’re just about to reach the end of 2018. We’ve earned 19 points in the Rückrunde last season, exactly the same amount as we’ve got at the moment in the Hinrunde. Now we have three games to give ourselves a good end to the year and collect some more points,” said Schwarz. It’s not important that the opposition are all of a high quality. Mainz start with a game against RB Leipzig on Sunday. The coach warned that the games from here on out should not be considered bonus matches. “I don’t want the team to think that we have nothing to lose against these teams. That shows a lack of motivation. You always have something to lose, you can always lose a game. We must be focused on the opportunity to get three points. On Sunday the only thing that counts is the quality that we bring onto the pitch.
Recognition of the fans
That’s what the fans want to see. “Against Hannover the fans celebrated afterwards as though we had won. After the offside goal you could see the emotion and when they realised the situation the whole stadium exploded. It was a tribute to how much they care. We need things to stay like that, which is why this training session today is so important.”
The Zerofivers were running in training as though they were trying to correct the result from the weekend. “The boys want to win whatever game they’re playing in. That is the mentality of our group.” This mentality was also seen against Hannover, especially in the second half. “In the second period we had a clear dominance, which was a difficult feat to achieve.” Mainz had to deal with a strong defence from the opposition. “We were very demanding of ourselves and stopped at nothing. We never voluntarily gave up possession, we always looked for solutions and didn’t restrict ourselves to one tactic, we looked for opportunities all over the pitch. We did that very well in the second half,” said Schwarz. “As a result of our dominance we built a structure to the game. It wasn’t a wild “kick and run”. On this level the point was fully deserved. You’ve just got to say that the dive Jean-Philippe Mateta was accused of is something else. You have to stick to the truth. If there was no VAR then we would have one that game. That’s how it is.”
It’s clear that there are things we can do better. “We are extremely critical of ourselves and that’s the way you have to be. We don’t want to speak with rose-tinted glasses on but do we have a very young team and have integrated a lot of new players. You have to applaud that and not just look at the mistakes. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have an idea in our heads of what ideal football looks like. We are Mainz 05 and need to put ourselves into perspective. It’s our goal to reach the best quality that we can but we must also leave room for development. We can see what we need to improve on,” said the coach. “We are therefore trying to always improve our mentality and footballing quality, like on Sunday for example. We played 66 passes in the box at the weekend, more than double what we usually average. That is improvement. Of course, we also want to improve our goal scoring at some point as well.”