The 2016/17 Bundesliga season may only be a matter of weeks old, but there have already been two managerial changes, with Alexander Nouri and Markus Gisdol picking up the reins at struggling northern giants SV Werder Bremen and Hamburger SV respectively.
Gisdol’s predecessor Bruno Labbadia had proven the hero in the 2014/15 season, saving the Bundesliga’s only ever-present club from relegation by virtue of a last-gasp play-off victory over Karlsruher SC. With that memory fading fast, the Red Shorts picked up just a single point from the 2016/17 campaign, and Labbadia was replaced with Gisdol.
Gisdol making his mark
Gisdol earned his coaching spurs working as current RB Leipzig sporting director Ralf Rangnick’s assistant when the pair were at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. His time with the Sinsheim club made him well-accustomed to relegation dog-fights – indeed, he saved Die Kraichgauer from the drop in the 2013/14 campaign despite the fact Hoffenheim had been second from bottom as late as April 2013. Ninth and eighth-place finished followed over the next two seasons, with European qualification proving just beyond reach. His record as Hoffenheim coach reads: 96 games played, 35 won and 24 drawn with 37 defeats.
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Gisdol’s first game at the HSV helm was a 2-0 defeat to Hertha Berlin in the capital. The points may not have followed the team back to the Volksparkstadion, but Gisdol’s footprint on the team was evident: HSV played with two strikers in tandem – Bobby Wood and Pierre-Michel Lasogga – and finished the match having registered 16 shots on goal, more than they had mustered in any of their five previous games. “We demonstrated what we can do,” said Gisdol post-match. “I do not like the result, but I like the team.” Cautious optimism seems justified.
Nouri’s spectacular start
Bremen, on the other hand, have a different approach. Nouri has been promoted from the reserve team as the replacement for outgoing Viktor Skripnik. Nouri was a player of little prestige, turning out most notably for VfL Osnabrück in Bundesliga 2. The 37-year-old’s career as a coach got off to a more exciting start, though, guiding Werder Bremen II to promotion to the 3. Liga in 2014/15 before steering them to survival last term.
SV Werder Bremen’s late 2-1 victory over VfL Wolfsburg was one of the games of the season so far.
Nouri’s introduction to the top-flight was nothing if not a rollercoaster ride. Three minutes away from a debut victory on Matchday 4, 1. FSV Mainz stole all three points at the Weser Stadium with a pair of late goals. Three days later and Bremen pulled off a smash-and-grab of their own, coming from behind to beat VfL Wolfsburg 2-1 with Theodor Gebre Selassie scoring with the final touch of the ball. Four points from three game saw the 37-year-old given the position of coach on a full-time basis, having initially been appointed as an interim solution.
Nouri and Gisdol will be using the international break to busily plot their paths away from the lower reaches of the Bundesliga table. They ought to study hard: Matchday 8 sees Bremen come up against Leipzig and Hamburg against Eintracht Frankfurt – two of the surprise packages so far this season.
Karol Herrmann/Stuart Telford