Two seasons ago, on matchday 31, Hannover 96 found themselves needing 3 points against newly promoted side Ingolstadt 04 to have a chance at avoiding relegation. The club from Niedersachsen had spent fourteen straight campaigns in top division play, but it all came to a crashing end.
Thus, Hannover 96 spent a one year sojourn in Germany’s second division.
2. Bundesliga: Could Hannover Return to the Top?
Hannover joined the second division for the 2016-17 season and wasted no time on the race to promotion. On August 5th, the campaign kicked off with a dominant 4-0 win over FC Kaiserslautern to set a precedent for the rest of the campaign. “The Reds” stayed dominant up to the winter break, where they ended with matchday 17 and a 0-0 draw against SV Sandhausen.
Two matches into the Rückrunde showed potential troubles were ahead and Hannover could not simply waltz through the second tier of Germany. Hannover paid visit to Greuther Fürth, whom they had beaten 3-1 in the home fixture. It took just sixteen minutes for Fürth to take the lead with a beautiful goal from Serdar Dursun. Five minutes and a questionable decision from a line judge later, Hans Franke doubled Fürth’s lead. In the 64th minute, Dursun struck again, giving Fürth a clear victory over the promotion contenders. However, the Shamrocks weren’t done yet. Three minutes later, Veton Berisha added salt to the wound and made it a 4-0 deficit. However, it was not all bad news. In the 86′, Fürth’s Geisselmann took a yellow card after fouling Sarenren Bazee. One minute later, Hannover’s very own Russian left back Edgar Prib stepped up and converted the free kick to make it 4-1.
The only other hiccup in Hannover’s season was the four matches between February 25th and March 20th. Hannover only won one match (against famously-relegated 1860 Munich), drawing two and losing the other. This led to the departure of then-manager Daniel Stendel and the arrival of current manager Andre Breitenreiter.
On the final matchday of the season, Hannover drew 1-1 with Sandhausen. This draw was significant due to the fact it secured automatic promotion back to the Bundesliga. Andre Breitenreiter achieved his goal of achieving promotion. When the final whistle blew, the traveling supporters erupted and stormed the field in celebration of the return to the Bundesliga after just one season in the second division.
The Owner, President, and CEO
No, these titles aren’t for three different people. These titles are for the same man, Martin Kind. Martin Kind is a massive proponent in favor of getting rid of the “50+1” rule. The 50+1 rule is popular with many Bundesliga fans because it keeps big money investors from coming in and getting rid of the passionate local feel many Bundesliga sides have. Martin Kind believes that getting rid of the rule would allow for more money to come in to strengthen Bundesliga quality in international competitions such as the UEFA Champions League or the UEFA Europa League. In 2015, Kind proposed an amendment to the 50+1 rule that would let investors take over after 20 years of club involvement. This amendment was widely rejected, but Kind went to arbitrary court with complaints and got his amendment passed. With the new rules, Kind has plans for after this season to allow Hannover 96 to be completely taken over by investors and he will step down from his post as club owner, president, and CEO. Only time will tell if large money investors will make Hannover a Bundesliga powerhouse.
Hannover Wasting No Time on Transfers
Hannover conceded just 32 goals this past season, which was the lowest for the top five sides in the division. The club continues to emphasis defense, as the former Schalke man and current Hannover Sporting Director Gerhard Zuber has already brought in defensive-minded veterans this summer.
Highlighting the new arrivals is Borussia Mönchengladbach man and German youth international Julian Korb. The right back made 76 senior team appearances for ‘Gladbach and has frequently caught the eye of Joachim Löw, but has not received a call-up quite yet. Since Korb is 25 years old, his three million € transfer was a smart bit of business from Zuber. Korb offers Bundesliga experience and quality to a team who will need to battle for survival this upcoming next season.
On the other defensive flank, Polish-German youth international Matthias Ostrzolek has joined as another experienced fulback. After making 81 appearances for Hamburg and 70 appearances for Augsburg, the 27-year-old is a strong tackler, but oftentimes appears vulnerable on the ball. It is very likely that Ostrzolek and Prib will compete for the left back role and may rotate in and out of the XI in the meantime. Ostrzolek’s transfer fee of just a mere two million € shows that his fee won’t force him into the lineup if he is not good enough.
Also joining H96 is the Bundesliga-traveled veteran and Swiss international Pirmin Schwegler on a free transfer. Schwegler is 30 years old and has over 200 Bundesliga appearances. The addition of Pirmin Schwegler brings much-needed experience in the center of the park; however, he does come with a lengthy injury history.
After losing goalkeepers Marko Maric (Loan) and Timo Königsmann (End of Contract), Hannover needed a new goalkeeper to accompany Philipp Tschauner, so the €2 million solution was the former Darmstadt 98 goalkeeper Michael Esser. Tschauner and Esser will likely rotate in a similar fashion to Ostrzolek and Prib until a clear starter of the two emerges.
What is the Goal?
Survival. Hannover is too big of a side for 2. Bundesliga. If Hannover continues making smart transfers, then survival should come fairly easily for Die Roten.