Pitchside Europe

New Year, new coaches in Germany

A change can be as good as a rest but in the Bundesliga it seems combining the two is even better - at least it is if last weekend's results are anything to go by.

One of the enduring charms of the German top flight is that the five-week winter break enables struggling teams to recharge their batteries in the sun and stop the rot. Take the examples of clubs who have changed their head coach since December:

Schalke 04

Schalke kicked off the New Year in style on Friday with a nine-goal thriller. New coach Jens Keller, replacing Huub Stevens, made a winning start as the Royal Blues edged Hannover 5-4 with six of the goals coming in a mad 19-minute period during the second half.

It was a great way to celebrate the return of the Bundesliga and a bit of a baptism of fire for Keller, who said afterwards: "That was a crazy game that had everything in it.

“As a coach in a situation like that you sit on the sideline and hardly know what to make of it all.

“Overall, though, we showed that we’ve been working hard. Over the coming weeks we’ll be carrying on in the same rigorous vein."

Hannover's only consolation was the goal of the game from Senegalese striker Mame Diouf, an outrageous bicycle kick from the edge of the penalty area.

Schalke head to Bavaria next to play Augsburg, who also made personnel changes...

Augsburg

Markus Weinzierl is still Augsburg's coach but they do have a new sporting director, their third of the season. Former German international Stefan Reuter was appointed at short notice. His previous experience in the job is three seasons at 1860 Munich.

The 46 year old's reputation precedes him and as a son of Bavaria he brings good contacts to the job. Along with new South Korean Ki, on loan from Sunderland, these changes have had an immediate effect.

Augsburg were positive and revitalised as they beat Fortuna Dusseldorf  3-2 away for only their second win of the season. The only downside was Sasha Molder's goal celebration: quite possibly the worst cartwheel ever.

Can Augsburg defy the odds by surviving relegation for the second season running ? Their next challenge will come at home against Schalke on Saturday.

Wolfsburg

New Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking gave the fans what they wanted in his first game in charge, a 2-0 home win over Stuttgart. Brazilian playmaker Diego was man of the match thanks to a great individual goal and an assist.

The Wolves had already been playing well under caretaker coach Lorenz-Gunther Kostner and had a positive record in his nine games. It's vital for Hecking to continue the positive run so that the Felix Magath era becomes a distant memory.

Hecking is not about to rest on his laurels: “I wasn't happy with the way we played. We needed too long to get into the game,” he said.

“Stuttgart were in possession way too often. It was a lucky win. The positives are that the lads showed fighting spirit and we won. We've taken our first step foward here."

On Saturday, Wolfsburg face a tough test in the Lower Saxony Derby at 11th place Hannover, one of Hecking's former clubs. Wolfsburg have a score to settle with their neighbours after the 4-0 humiliation at home last September.

Nurnberg

Nurnberg 's new coach Michael Wiesinger managed to avoid defeat, snatched a point in a 1-1 home draw with Hamburg.

It was the first Bundesliga match for the ex-Nurnberg player and reserve team coach who faces a baptism of fire with Der Club in 15th place. He stamped his authority by leaving Japanese playmaker Hiroshi Kiyotake on the bench.

The 40-year-old Wiesinger doesn' t actually have his coaching badge so, in a Bayer Leverkusen-style set up, he will be ably assisted by Armin Reutershahn.

Wiesinger knows he's got work to do: “I can only really be happy with the first half of the game,” he admitted.

“The reply after going a goal down was good but we were lucky that Schäfer perform heroics for us today. We are pleased with the point.”

This Friday Nurnberg will find Borussia Dortmund a tougher nut to crack. The champions were rampant as they inflicted a 5-0 away hammering upon a woeful Werder Bremen.

Hoffenheim

Marco Kurz led his new club Hoffenheim to their first point after six straight defeats. It came at home against eighth- placed Borussia Moenchengladbach and if not for an inspired performance from Gladbach goalkeeper Marc Andre Ter Stegen they might have taken all three points.

Kurz will have been pleased with only their 2nd clean sheet all season: “It’s important to establish a sense of community,” he explained.

“We have to do it not just within the team, but with the fans and everyone at the club as well. The first problem to deal with is the high number of goals conceded.

“We have to find the right tactics as well as having good positional play. The lads need a clear plan for every situation.”

One downside from the game is the injury to Bosnian Sejad Salihovoic who will undergo knee surgery on Monday 28th. Die Hoffe are already without Sebastian Rudy until March following ankle surgery.

Hoffenheim are 16th, one point above the automatic drop zone. Their next game is away at fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt , the season's surprise package, who were well beaten by in-form Bayer Leverkusen.

This could be the ideal time to play Frankfurt. Can they clip the eagles’ wings or will it be a case of beware the wounded animal?

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It was a successful start for the four new coaches, though all four had the fortune of beginning their terms with a home fixture. The litmus test will be this weekend when they go on the road with their new charges.

Tony Jeffers