Mainz - After the first half of the season, 1. FSV Mainz 05 were sitting pretty in sixth place on 26 points, but by the end of the campaign, they had slipped down to 13th, on 42. Where there was not much luck to begin with, bad luck compounded matters after the restart, with the team earning particularly scant reward for their endeavours at the Coface Arena.
Small squad lacking depth
All too often, the 05er finished a contest on home turf with a draw at best having taken the lead. Just one home win in 2013 - 1-0 against Bayer 04 Leverkusen - bears out that poor form, even if Mainz did perform creditably for long spells before suffering a dip in form towards the end of the season. A plethora of injuries, combined with a drop-off in tension as the dream of European football faded, and the unlucky against SC Freiburg all doubtless played their part in the disappointing season finish. “It cuts no ice with us that we slumped so much,” said coach Thomas Tuchel. “Because we know the reasons why.”
In the fourth season under Tuchel, Mainz started out with a small squad and very few new arrivals. By the end, as the energy levels sapped, the lack of in-depth cover was clearly taking its own toll, all the more so as the new arrivals had fallen disappointingly short of expectations. Neither nor were able to effectively replace UAE-bound Mohamed Zidan, whose goals had been vital to keeping Mainz safe in the back end of the previous season.
Up front, the burden of expectation thus lay on the shoulders of , who responded with an impressive tally of 13 goals. There was little in the way of support for the powerful Hungarian international, due also to being sidelined by injury for practically the entire season. On the upside, however, the club’s own youth product emerged as a serious alternative after the fleet-footed forward netted on his debut against Eintracht Frankfurt last autumn.
Experienced defence convinces
Klasnic and Rukavytsya weren't the only new signings who failed to make their mark. While left back Junior Diaz showed glimpses of promise, Chinedu Ede did little to demonstrate his quality as Andreas Ivanschitz's back-up. However, it wasn't all doom and gloom for Tuchel's up-and-coming young side in the transfer market, as they made a shrewd signing in acquiring the services of Danish international Niki Zimling.
It should be noted nonethless that apart from European qualifiers FC Bayern, Dortmund, Leverkusen and Freiburg, no other club conceded fewer goals than Mainz's 44 in the Bundesliga. The oldest defence in the division, structured around captain Nikolce Noveski, certainly justified the club's European aspirations following that strong first season-half. Given the aggregation of their personnel woes as the campaign progressed, a place on the international stage again would, in the end, have been quite some feat.