Hannover: Three games in – Quo vadis, 96?

So that went well.

A relaxing season, sitting somewhere in midfield, no annoying discussions… it was too good to be true. But then again, one could’ve just become a Mainz fan for that.

Speaking of Mainz: Well, that was some crap. Wow… best we quickly forget that. Defensive non-show paired with complete offensive harmlessness. Jeez…

Apart from that: The start to the season was… mediocre at best. One point from three games – and that one against a promoted team, who used their minds to let 96 legend “Kocka” Rausch look like Messi….. I mean who used their minds to pull their opponents down to their level and to get three draws from that. Respect. In that game you could see the only thing that is working okay-ish so far – the partnership between Charlie Benschop and Mevlut Erdinc. Charlie looks very committed (which sets him apart from the rest of the team).

The midfield behind the two guys looks more like “well meant is often the opposite of well done,” though the effort leaves something to desire, too. Many 96 fans are so frustrated, we could be back in April with a losing streak since the winter break. The thing is: If the team can’t find their feet with good moves, you at least want your team to fight and compete. And with a few exceptions that’s not happening.

We don’t have many technicians on the pitch – Kenan Karaman can’t show it on this level, Felix Klaus doesn’t look match fit, newboy Uffe Bech only has had one half so far, teenaged Allan Saint-Maximin at least tries. The rest – especially Manuel Schmiedebach, Salif Sané, and Edgar Prib – have to shine at least with tackles, sprints, or duels. But they don’t. Salif is fishing everything out of the air and tries as much as he can, but the rest is lacking a lot. Many hopes rest on Hiroshi Kiyotake, who is returning back to the squad from the broken metatarsal he suffered while with the Japan National Team in pre-season. Perhaps he can energize the team a bit and bring back creativity to the #10 position.

So now comes the BVB. I saw their Europa League games against Odds and their Ingolstadt league game in-between. They are pretty decent. Odds profited from the weaker goalkeeper, the defence being in deep sleep, and the traditional wastefulness in front of goal. Ingolstadt too was able to hold Dortmund scoreless for a while with a mix of luck and roughness.

When I say that Hannover are outsiders, that’s not news. It’s been like that for years against Dortmund. Keeping a point is a tough job, getting the first in of the season against them a minor miracle. Unfortunately I am an optimist despite having no supporting arguments. And so I still have a “What if everyone pulls themselves together and it somehow works?” in me.

After the game, the team will most likely be at the bottom of the table with one point from four games. Then the questions will start, how it is going to continue. Sure, the Dortmund game is no indicator for the season and should play a minor role in the early assessment. How the team behaves on the pitch, however, can certainly play a role in the next few weeks.

After this bad start to the season there’s a Sunday evening game in Augsburg on match day 5. Augsburg – the place of (50% of the) rescue in May. Sadly, I won’t be able to go to Bavaria again this time, but have to follow it motionless on my couch. Augsburg will have had their first Europa League game then and has also had a rough start to the season. A lot can hinge on that game. Especially, because we then have the “englische Woche” with a midweek game against Stuttgart and another game in Wolfsburg the next Saturday. That’s match day 7 and by then we will have to have more points on the board.

Otherwise things will look bleak for Coach Michael Frontzeck and the first job for the new sporting director – who is yet to be determined by club president Martin Kind – may be to find a new coach. Perhaps they wait for the next international break after the Bremen game on match day 8.

Let’s put it like this: My trust in the coach hasn’t risen in the last few weeks. But who am I to let him fall on the first signs of a storm? He’s preaching a mantra of patience and his haircut shows me he’s a mix between Pep Guardiola and the Dalai Lama. In his recent interviews he certainly uses all the clichés.

I get the most optimism from my personal statistics: Since Frontzeck started the job in late April, he’s 2-3-3. The end of the season was 2-2-1. I was in the stadium for 7/9 gained points in the final three games. Without me the team got 2/15 possible points. So what’s better than to go to the game against Dortmund?

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Ansgar Löcke is a diehard Hannover fan who has written previously for the Bundesliga Fanatic on his adventures following the 96ers in Pokal competition and in Denmark. You can follow Ansgar on twitter @Ansgarius_90