A change is as good as a rest but in the Bundesliga it seems a combination of both is even better. That’s if last weekend`s results are anything to go by. One of the enduring charms of the German top flight is that the five-week winter break enables struggling teams to recharge their batteries in the sun and to stop the rot.
Take the clubs who’ve changed their head coach since December.
Schalke kicked off the New Year in style on Friday in a nine goal thriller. New coach Jens Keller, replacing Huub Stevens, made a winning start as the Royal Blues edged Hannover 5-4 with six of the goals coming in a 19 minute period during the second half. It was a great way to celebrate the return of the Bundesliga and a baptism of fire for Keller
“That was a crazy game that had everything in it. As a coach in a situation like that you sit on the sideline and hardly know what to make of it all. Overall, though, we showed that we’ve been working hard. Over the coming weeks we’ll be carrying on in the same rigorous vein.”
Hannover’s only consolation was the goal of the game from Senegalese striker Mame Diouf, an outrageous bicycle kick from the edge of the penalty area.
Next Schalke head to Bavaria to play Augsburg.
Markus Weinzierl is still Augsburg’s coach but they do have a new sporting director, their third of the season. Former German international Stefan Reuter was appointed at short notice. The 46 year old, whose previous experience in the job is three seasons at 1860 Munich, is a native of Bavaria and brings good contacts. Along with new South Korean Ji Dong-Won, on loan from Sunderland, the changes had an immediate effect.
A revitalised Augsburg beat Fortuna Dusseldorf 3-2 away for only their second win of the season. The only downside was Sasha Molder’s goal celebrations. quite possibly the worst cartwheel ever.
Can Augsburg defy the odds by surviving relegation for the second season running ? Their next challenge comes at home against Schalke on Saturday.
New Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking gave the fans what they wanted in his first game in charge, a 2-0 home win over Stuttgart. Brazilian playmaker Diego was man of the match with a great individual goal and an assist.
The Wolves had already been playing well under caretaker coach Lorenz-Gunther Kostner and had a positive record in his nine games. It’s vital for Hecking to continue the positive run so that the Felix Magath era becomes a distant memory. He’s not about to rest on his laurels.
“I wasn’t happy with the way we played. We needed too long to get into the game. Stuttgart were in possession way too often. It was a lucky win. The positives are that the lads showed fighting spirit and we won. We’ve taken our first step foward here.”
On Saturday, Wolfsburg face a tough test in the Lower Saxony Derby at 11th place Hannover, one of Hecking’s former clubs. They have a score to settle with their neighbours after the 4-0 humiliation at home last September.
Nurnberg ‘s new coach Michael Wiesinger managed to avoid defeat, snatching a point in a 1-1 home draw with Hamburg. It was the first Bundesliga match for the ex Nurnberg player and reserve team coach who faces a tall order with Der Club in 15th place. He stamped his authority by leaving Japanese playmaker Hiroshi Kiyotake on the bench. The 40 year old Wiesinger doesn’ t actually have his coaching badge so, in a Bayer Leverkusen type set up, he will be ably assisted by Armin Reutershahn.
Wiesinger knows he’s got work to do.
“I can only really be happy with the first half of the game. The reply after going a goal down was good but we were lucky that Raphael Schafer performed heroics for us today. We’re pleased with the point.”
This Friday Nurnberg travel to Borussia Dortmund in a tougher test . The Champions were rampant as they inflicted a 5-0 defeat away on a woeful Werder Bremen.
Marco Kurz led his new club Hoffenheim to their first point after six straight defeats.
It came at home against eighth placed Borussia Moenchengladbach and if not for an inspired Gladbach goalkeeper Marc Andre Ter Stegen they might have taken all three points.
Kurz will have been pleased with only their second clean sheet all season
“It’s important to establish a sense of community. We have to do it not just within the team, but with the fans and everyone at the club aswell. The first problem to dal with is the high number of goals conceded. We have to find the right tactics aswell as having good positional play. The lads need a clear plan for every situation.”
One negative from the game is the injury to Bosnian Sejad Salihovoic who will undergo knee surgery on Monday 28th. “Die Hoffe” are already without Sebastian Rudy until March following ankle surgery.
Hoffenheim are 16th one point above the automatic drop zone. Their next game is away at 4th place Eintracht Frankfurt , the season’s surprise package, who were well beaten by in-form Bayer Leverkusen. This could be the ideal time to play Frankfurt .
So a successful start for the four new coaches who were lucky that their first game was at home. The litmus test will be this weekend when they go on the road.
Eurosport 2 Bundesliga Commentator
We kick off Eurosport 2 weekend action on Friday with the champions Borussia Dortmund hosting Nurnberg. On Saturday Freiburg entertain in-form Bayer Leverkusen in the Black Forest. The action continues on Sunday with a Northern Derby as Hamburg host Werder Bremen followed by Stuttgart against runaway leaders Bayern Munich.