Wolfsburg handed Hannover 96 their sixth defeat in a row this weekend beating the team from Lower-Saxony by a goal to nil.
It would have been no surprise if Mirko Slomka had been shown the door on the spot but instead a strange turn of events took place. Upon warming down, the Hannover 96 players saw a large section of the fans stay behind and applaud their team for the valiant but fruitless efforts they had made in the match. This was the first time in a long time that their team had shown fight and this had been noticed all the way up in the board room.
It was only January that the Hannover 96 faithful heard the chilling statement that “After three defeats in a row and a poor run of seven games without a win, the Hannover 96 board no longer felt that Andreas Bergmann was the man to lead the club out of their current relegation predicament.” After being complemented for the way he handled the tragic death of Robert Enke, Bergmann, he was replaced by Mirko Slomka. The former Hannover 96 player has previously managed Schalke with mixed success and now decided to take on a team that, up until his installation on January 19, had won only four games. Slomka took charge against Mainz in a match that many thought maybe a turning point, but this proved to be incorrect as they suffered a 1-0 defeat. Little better followed as the next four games saw them loose 1-3 at home to Nuremberg, just miss out 2-1 away at Hoffenheim then take a beating 1-5 in front of their home fans courtesy of Werder Bremen followed by a 4-1 thumping away at Borussia Dortmund. The last of these games saw the newly installed Coach fly into a rage, fourteen goals conceded in five games was too much, “This is not worthy of a team in the Bundesliga,” Slomka said. “This has got to change, and drastically too.”The up and coming game at home to Wolfsburg many saw as Slomka’s final chance to get appoint as Hannover 96 were now languishing in the relegation zone.
The surprise was then evident that after a 0-1 defeat to Wolfsburg that both the crowd and the board gave Slomka a thumbs up, the question was why? It was evident that his team had fought hard in this match and showed the character that was missing in the Borussia Dortmund game. Slomka pointed out: “We played very passionately and, at times, some exciting football going forward.”When quizzed if he would be in charge after a seventh straight defeat, the forty two year old simply mentioned that he was thinking if nothing but a victory at Freiburg. Hannover 96 fans can have some room to be mildly optimistic, Freiburg lie two places above the Lower-Saxons in fifteenth place and are only three points above them. The previous meeting in October saw Hannover 96 smash the visitors 5-2 in a epic encounter. Freiburg managed a 1-1 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach last week however only goalkeeper Simon Pouplin stopped Freiburg conceding four more. Should Hannover 96 beat Freiburg this weekend and both Nuremberg and Hertha Berlin both suffer defeats, which looks possible as they face Bayer Leverkusen and Hamburg respectively then Slomka could still be in a job come the weekend after.
A win against opposition like this is crucial for survival in the Bundesliga and considering that Freiburg have scored only five goals all season at home then it looks as though this fixture could not have come at a better time. This will be a time for players to stand up and be counted and much will lie on the heads of Arnold Bruggink, Arouna Kon