The New Year brought a new coach and a change in direction – a moderate one in terms of the standings but potentially far-reaching for the team's general style of play. bundesliga.com has the lowdown for you...
Three wins from their opening four matches proved deceptive as the 96ers' long-standing pattern of fine form at home and travails on their travels continued over the first half the new season. Indeed, the disparity was more extreme than ever as they lost all eight away games before the winter break and with only a four-point cushion on the relegation zone, the club parted ways with head coach Mirko Slomka. His little-known successor, Tayfun Korkut, brought with him the promise of a fresh approach and a debut win on the road at Wolfsburg augured well all-round. Things did not progress quite so smoothly thereafter but Hannover did eventually steer clear of the drop zone with something to spare and Korkut looks now to have a solid foundation to build on over the summer.
Ever-present from the first minute of Bundesliga action to the last, once again presented the opposition with a formidable last line of defence week-in, week-out. Elected player of the season for the third time running by the Hannover fans, the 25-year-old shotstopper signed from Manchester United in 2010 clearly has Joachim Löw's vote as well, with the national team head coach nominating him alongside Manuel Neuer and Roman Weidenfeller as his trio for the World Cup finals.
2013/14 may have been Hannover's but the fans were not in the slightest put-off – in fact, with an average attendance of 45,600 at their HDI Arena stronghold, the 96ers have never been so well supported as they were in the season just ended.
“We can empathise with any feelings of anger and disappointment. It was hard for us to come up with any kind of argument after a performance like that,” admitted skipper in response to enraged protests from the travelling support in wake of Hannover's 3-0 defeat at regional rivals Eintracht Braunschweig on Matchday 29.
It seemed a long way back from that bleak early-April afternoon in Braunschweig but just over a month later, the team ran out for their final game of the season buoyed by three wins and a draw in the interim, a run more than good enough to stave off the lingering spectre of relegation. In front of another packed home crowd, they completed the process of exoneration by beating SC Freiburg 3-2 to end a topsy-turvy campaign in the manner they intend to start, and continue, the next one.