In the last episode newly promoted Hansa Rostock really struggled during their first half season back in the 2nd tier of German football. To catch up on this post, follow this link.
“This is Mr Cat in the Hat” Rolf Elgeti gleefully splurted out as Marcus Allbäck entered the office. Marcus, who had initially thought that he must have misheard then realized that he hadn’t. Mr Elgeti was actually sitting in his office chair patting a large greyish cat lying on his lap. A cat sporting a blue and white tiny hat with the Hansa Rostock badge on it.
Marcus Allbäck resisted the urge to back out of the room again as the Hansa Rostock owner continued. “Mr Cat in the Hat is a bit confused. Mr Cat in the Hat wants to know if Mills is a typical Swedish name? Is Koukou a typical Swedish name” Marcus Allbäck felt a bit confused as he answered mumbling “no, it’s not”. “Mr Cat in the Hat can’t hear you!” Rolf Elgeti hissed. “No, Mills is not a common Swedish name. Neither is Koukou”, Marcus Allbäck answered. Rolf Elgeti’s eyes went dark as he raised his voice. “And yet here we are with two new players, one English and one from Burkina Faso! That’s about as far away from Sweden as you can get!” Marcus Allbäck realised where this was going as he looked into Rolf Elgeti’s twitching left eye and he didn’t like it one bit. “You disappoint me, Marcus. And what’s more important, you disappoint Mr Cat in the Hat”, Rolf Elgeti said in a strange childish voice.
“You need rules, you obviously really need rules. I thought I had made it perfectly clear in which direction we were going with this, but either you did not understand or you just chose to disobey me”. He turned to the cat and whispered softly “he certainly needs rules, doesn’t he? Yes, he does. He does, he does, he does”. Then Rolf Elgeti closed his eyes and waved for Marcus Allbäck to leave the office. The strangest meeting in Marcus Allbäck’s life was just over.
From now on the Hansa Rostock board have decided that Marcus Allbäck can only sign German or Swedish players, and any player 21 years old or above needs to be at least 66% IKEA to be allowed to be signed.
Hansa Rostock continued their poor form as the second half of the season kicked off. They looked decent offensively but conceded what felt like nearly every time the opposition managed to shoot on goal. The squad is one of the weakest in the league, which is usually the case with newly promoted teams, but they were looking really naïve in defence. Marcus Allbäck, who had been experimenting with an aggressive 4-4-2, decided drop the defensive line and also drop one of the midfielders into a defensive midfield position, to stop the balls coming in between the defensive line and the midfield. This worked wonders as the team looked much more solid in what was probably the most important game of the season. A 2-0 win in the heated derby against St. Pauli saw the team break a 3 game run of losses. Perhaps this was the turning point of the season!? Still 7 points behind 15th placed St. Pauli with 11 games to go, the good form had to continue in order to avoid relegation.
A 3-2 win away to Heidenheim kicked off the final third of the season and meant that Hansa Rostock closed in on the teams above them even further, but they were quickly brought back down to earth by a 2-4 defeat at home to 2nd placed Union Berlin. A win every other game seemed to be the way to go as the team pretty much won at home and lost the away games for the rest of the season. Striker Soufian Benyamina displayed an excellent run of form and certainly contributed as he scored 9 goals to secure 17 points in the last 11 games, compared to 19 points in the first 23 games.
This meant that the team managed to climb out of the relegation zone to finish in 16th place, leaving them with two fateful relegation play-off games against Karlsruhe for a chance to remain in the 2. Bundesliga. After a 1-2 loss at home loud opinions were heard calling for a tactical change, but Marcus Allbäck remained loyal to the 4-1-3-2 tactics he used for the last part of the season. Lucky for both Marcus, the team and the supporters the consistency paid off. After perhaps the best performance of the season Hansa Rostock stood as winners after a 5-2 result away and a 6-4 aggregate result.
Hansa Rostock play 2. Bundesliga football next season as well. The journey towards the Bundesliga can continue! This obviously means that the club can hopefully keep building in order to become a solid 2. Bundesliga team short-term and challenge for a spot in the Bundesliga over the next few seasons. The financial implications are also great as the difference in prize money between the German 2nd and 3rd tier is crazy. Last year Hansa Rostock were given €630K for their 2nd place finish in the 3. Fussball-Liga. This season they were given €8.5M for their 16th place finish in the 2. Bundesliga!
The youth intake
Hansa Rostock really had a glorious youth intake, 8 players were deemed good enough to secure a spot in the Academy and Head of Youth Development Juri Schlünz went as far as calling this a potential “golden generation” for the club.
The two players with the highest potential were Tobias Gerber and Joey Bölling. They both look like they are miles away from first-team football at the moment, but hopefully they can improve over the coming years along with a few of the other players to fulfill the high hopes on this talented group of players.
From the first team prominent young players Kai Otto and Danny Waters got called up for the U20s World Cup for Germany and Australia respectively, a great honour for the club and a sign that the up-and-coming new generation of players is something special!
Until next time, auf Wiedersehen!
For more content by @MikaelinhoFM, do go and check out his Brommapojkarna save! Follow the link below to check out the series from the very beginning.
Thanks for reading!