Kasper Hjulmand was presented as 1. FSV Mainz 05's new coach on Monday (© Imago)
Kasper Hjulmand was presented as 1. FSV Mainz 05's new coach on Monday (© Imago)

Mainz's new Mr 100 per cent

Mainz - "Less than 100 per cent is not enough. I don't like 95 per cent and I don't even like 98 per cent." Those are the foundations upon which new 1. FSV Mainz 05 coach Kasper Hjulmand intends to build the Bundesliga club's future.

Possession obsession

An indication of the standards Hjulmand demands could be extricated from his first press conference as Mainz's new coach. It quickly became clear that the 42-year-old Dane expects the very same level of commitment from himself as he does from his players, as he worked hard on conversing in fluent German, despite apologising in advance for what ultimately transpire to be nothing other than his preached 100 per cent.

Hjulmand would only really have had to let a video of his three years in charge of Danish Superliga outfit FC Nordsjælland, whom he led to the title in 2012 and a 1-1 draw with Italian giants Juventus in the 2012/13 Champions League, do the talking for him as Mainz fans try to get the gist of what to expect under the Aalborg-born coach.

Nordsjælland had become the FC Bayern of Danish football under Hjulmand. With the largest proportion of possession in the Danish top flight and the highest number of passes per match, they showed what he had learnt from his biggest inspirations: the AFC Ajax side of the 1980s and current FC Bayern München boss Pep Guardiola.

Perfect fit

Hjulmand had observed Guardiola long before he became famous in charge of Barcelona's reserve team, his first coaching post, in 2007. Hjulmand found himself in a similar position of relative anonymity, up until now and his arrival on one of Europe's biggest stages - the Bundesliga. "I'm an idealist and pragmatist in equal measures," he said.

His first meeting with Mainz's general manager Christian Heidel was on 14 April. He paid two visits to the Hessian city and soon realised that he had found his new home. "The values and the philosophy of the club fit perfectly with mine," he said. Qualification for the UEFA Europa League under his predecessor Thomas Tuchel was an added bonus.

Meeting with Klopp

He does not intend to transform everything, though, insisting that Tuchel and his predecessor Jürgen Klopp have already written an extensive blueprint for the football he intends to play in Mainz, although he will still look to add his own "fingerprint" to the side "once I get to know the players". That will happen next month, when he meets them in preparation for their first Europa League qualifiers.

He already knows one of the standard bearers he will be looking to emulate in Mainz having spent an evening chatting with Klopp at a UEFA elite coach meeting. Was Mainz ever mentioned over a glass or two in the bar? "I can't really remember," said Hjulmand, whose smile revealed he has a sense of humour too. In such a Carnival stronghold, that will also come in handy.