For Hannover 96, It’s all about Resilience

Hannover 96’s strong start to the season has tailed off in recent weeks, although an impressive 2-0 win over Hoffenheim kept them in the top half of the Bundesliga. The club were embroiled in controversy during the summer due to Martin Kind’s takeover, but manager Andre Breitenreiter has kept his players focused on the task at hand.

Die Roten finished bottom of the table in their last top-flight campaign and served just one season in the second tier before earning promotion. Kind’s attempt to buy a controlling stake in the team was met with friction from sections of the club supporters. The 73-year-old was allowed to break the 50+1 rule after Hannover’s supervisory board sanctioned the move, although it has yet to be ratified by German football’s governing body.

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Tensions boiled over between the fans and the club during a pre-season match at Burnley. A section of supporters ripped up seats and threw them on to the pitch, causing the match to be abandoned. When the Bundesliga season began, even though Hannover’s form was solid, fans still opted not to celebrate goals and, in some cases, boycotted matches in their protest against Kind’s quest for total control of the club. The club’s hierarchy has stated the difficulty in playing at home this season amid the unrest amongst sections of their supporters.

It’s testament to the quality of the job Breitenreiter has done thus far in the early stages of the campaign. No team is going to knock Bayern off in the title race, with Jupp Heynckes’ men considered the overwhelming favourites to win the Bundesliga in the latest football tips, but Hannover are on course for a mid-table finish due to their solid form.

Despite the turmoil off the pitch, Die Roten began the season with back-to-back victories. Martin Harnik scored the only goal of the game to defeat Mainz 05 in their opener on the road. Amid a hostile home crowd against Schalke 04, £9m summer signing Jonathas guided the club to a 1-0 victory over a quality outfit at the HDI Arena.

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Another strike from Harnik secured an away point against Wolfsburg before Breitenreiter’s men put on a second-half clinic to defeat Hamburger SV. The first defeat of the season came in their seventh match, losing 2-1 on the road against Borussia Monchengladbach in bitter fashion as Thorgan Hazard scored a late penalty. Another late winner was to cost Die Roten as Eintracht Frankfurt claimed a victory at the HDI-Arena through Ante Rebic.

It would have been easy for the newly-promoted side to slump after back-to-back losses. However, the most promising sign for Breitenreiter’s men in their bid to remain in the division was reeling off two wins on the spin, including a brilliant result at home to defeat Borussia Dortmund by putting four goals past Die Schwarzgelben.

Their form has been up-and-down since but that is to be expected from teams in the middle of the table. Despite the unrest amongst the supporters, their home form has remained solid enough and, if that holds until the end of the campaign – no matter what happens off-the-field – it should see them to safety.

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Dave Stapleton

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