The German Bundesliga starts on August 5, and heinnews is providing extensive coverage in the buildup to the 2011-12 season with a club preview each day. Today we take a look at Europa League side Hannover.
Since arriving at Hannover in January 2010, head coach Mirko Slomka has steadily worked on building a consistent team and last season was even able to lead Hannover surprisingly into the Europa League – finishing fourth. The coach’s goal this off-season was maintain stability and he did not make many changes to his squad.
Hannover let go of reserve keeper Florian Fromlowitz, midfielder DaMarcus Beasley and forward Mikael Forssell, none of whom really helped the team much last season. The biggest loss was defender Constant Djakpa, who was returned from his loan to Champions League side Bayer Leverkusen.
Slomka went out and added left-footed defender Christian Pander, who the coach knows very well from four years at Schalke as assistant coach and head coach.
He added another strong offensive force in bringing in one of Poland’s top young strikers in Artur Sobiech from Polish top-flight Polonia Warsaw. The 21-year-old collected nine goals and eight assists in 23 games last season.
For the midfield, Slomka found Norwegian international Henning Hauger from Stabaek IF. Hauger, who will team with Sergio Pinto and Moritz Stoppelkamp in the midfield, will be helped off the pitch with acclimating himself to Hannover and Germany by new teammates Didier Ya Konan and Mohammed Abdellaoue – both of whom played in Norway before coming to the Bundesliga.
Slomka also gave a professional contract to the 18-year-old Erdal Akdari to make sure not to lose the Turkish youth international left back, who had been drawing attention from Turkish clubs.
Hannover also gave a long-term commitment to 22-year-old keeper Ron-Robert Zieler, who extended his deal until 2015.
Hannover’s success could once again depend on the performance of Ya Konan, who scored 13 goals and had six assists in 25 matches last season.
“The team has a lot of potential. You could clearly see that last season. Now we want to build upon that success,” said Pander.
“With the Bundesliga and Europa League we have some great challenges ahead of us this coming season,” added Zieler.
“We built up the foundation and it is set. Now we have to get even more out of the players,” added Slomka.