bundesliga.com analyses the prospects of the Reds climbing the Bundesliga standings following a largely successful summer schedule.
After losing Mame Biram Diouf - scorer of 26 goals in just 57 Bundesliga appearances - in the summer, Hannover needed a suitable replacement, and in Joselu, they appear to have found one. The former Real Madrid CF player bagged nine league goals for Eintracht Frankfurt last season and five for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in the previous campaign. Quick, strong and now of proven Bundesliga pedigree, the 96ers will hope his progression continues.
One of the league’s assist-kings, the Reds beat off competition from a host of clubs to prize Hiroshi Kiyotake away from relegated 1. FC Nürnberg in the summer. The gifted Japanese international was one of the division’s standout players in 2012/13, but struggled for form with der Club last term. A change of scenery could be just what the 24-year-old now needs to return to the form that saw him provide 11 goals and bag four himself in his first season in Germany.
One of a host of up-and-coming and relatively inexperienced coaches, Tayfun Korkut proved his ability at this level in the second half of last season, despite never having solely coached a senior team. An impressive CV reveals posts coaching youth teams in Spain, Germany and Turkey, and he was the Turkish national team's assistant coach before taking up the post at Hannover. Fluency in Turkish, German, Spanish and English help him to communicate with the Reds' international ensemble.
The appointment of Korkut as head coach in late 2013 raised some eyebrows in the German footballing world, and for a while, it looked like a gamble that was doomed to fail. Korkut stuck to his guns, however, and a tactical shift to a 4-2-3-1 formation, moving captain Lars Stindl into an attacking midfield role, helped precede a run of four wins from their last five games in 2013/14. The ambitious 40-year-old may feel confident of improving on last season’s 10th-placed finish in his first full campaign at the helm.
Last season’s mid-table finish was ostensibly a respectable conclusion to a campaign of wholesale changes to team management, but in actual fact, Hannover were far closer to danger than their final position suggests. A calamitous 3-0 defeat to local rivals Eintracht Braunschweig on Matchday 29 was their fourth straight and left them just two points above the drop zone. This season, a similar finish, if not the lower reaches of the top half, without the drama, should come as a welcome return.
Hannover have largely favoured a 4-4-2 formation with plenty of width in recent seasons, but the signing of established no.10 Kiyotake and the emergence of Stindl as a central attacking midfielder, as well as the departure of left winger Szabolcs Huszti, will likely ensure that 4-2-3-1 remains Korkut’s favoured approach. At the back, German FIFA World Cup winner Ron-Robert Zieler will be between the posts, while new signing Marius Stankevicius' experience will bolster the defensive unit.
Preparations for the new season have revealed to Korkut that as well as the new arrivals, he has players in his squad already in form. After a training camp in Austria, Jan Schlaudraff bagged a hat-trick against Al-Ahly, and Artur Sobiech also hit a treble at Red Star Belgrade. Kiyotake is also off the mark with a goal and an assist, while wins over SS Lazio to conclude pre-season and FC Astoria Walldorf in the DFB Cup have things looking up ahead of the visit of FC Schalke 04 on opening day.