Slomka Sacked! Hannover 96 to Find New Direction in New Year

Hannover 96 announced Friday their decision to part ways with coach Mirko Slomka after nearly four years.

“We have not made this decision lightly,” said Hannover 96 sporting director Dirk Dufner.

And, despite recent struggles, it’s easy to understand why it would have been difficult to terminate the employment of the man who oversaw the most-successful stretch in Bundesliga competition.

Slomka’s tenure in Hannover started with a six-match losing streak and finished with an eight-(away)match losing streak, but between the bookend struggles were a pair of trips to Europa league, reaching the quarterfinals in the 2011-12 season, the qualification for which came thanks to a fourth-place league finish in 2010-11, Hannover’s best-ever Bundesliga finish.

Following Slomka out the door are assistant coach Nestor El-Maestro and director and coordinator of training Professor Jürgen Freiwald.

“My personal thanks go to Mirko Slomka, who saved Hannover 96 from relegation into the 2. Bundesliga and subsequently led the club twice into the UEFA Europa League,” offered club President Martin Kind. “These achievements will always be closely associated with his name.”

Fans appear to be ready to swap Dufner (l) and Kind for the return of Slomka to the Hannover sideline.

Yet, the lack of an away point in the current season’s Hinrunde and the board’s outlook for the coming months stand as the most-prominent character witnesses in the final judgment in ending Slomka’s time at the helm.

Despite recent rumblings over inconsistency so far this season, Slomka’s popularity among supporters of the red shirts will make this post-Boxing Day announcement likely an unwelcome surprise.

Early returns on social media were overwhelmingly negative, with evaluations of the move ranging from “dumb decision” to “the worst decision you could make. While many fans took to the club’s Facebook page to announce themselves as “PRO-Slomka” and even suggesting it was Dufner and Kind who should have felt the cut of the axe, rather than the head coach.

Certainly the club may have anticipated a bit of backlash, opting to announce the decision late Friday between two holidays, traditionally a time of muted media coverage. The timing also naturally offers the extra time afforded by the winter break to potentially join the club before January 25, when Hannover travels to Wolfsburg for the beginning of the season’s second half.

“It depends. How big a pile of money are we discussing here?”

Early rumors have Frank Kramer as Kind’s primary target for Slomka’s replacement, with Bild reporting Hannover has already been in contact with the man who currently has SpVgg Greuther Fürth among the favorites to gain promotion from 2. Bundesliga.

Fürth President Helmut Hack dismissed the rumors as “pure Humbug.”

Slomka is the fourth coach in the league to get the axe this season after Bruno Labbadia, Thorsten Fink and Michael Wiesinger.

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Randall Hauk is a freelance writer living in the United States while covering German football. He is currently the publisher of Planet Effzeh, an English-language site covering 1. FC Köln. He wrote about the German national team for the Telegraph as part of their World Cup Nation coverage.

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