Mainz and that sinking feeling: Can Bo Henriksen save the Nullfünfer?

Struggles are all part of football and Mainz are no strangers to having to fight for their Bundesliga place. Since promotion in 2009 the Nullfünfer have perennially been on many people’s list as relegation candidates, yet every year they punch above their weight and survive another year. This season however sees the club in a bad way with a return to the 2.Bundesliga a distinct possibility if their fortunes don’t change pretty quickly.

The club sacked coach Jan Siewert on Monday after having previously parted ways with Bo Svensson back in November, Coaching changes of that regularity can spell nothing but Mödanger and with the club sitting in 17th place and only off the bottom of the table on goal difference, the outlook is bleak to say the least. 

“We expressly thank Jan for his commitment,” sporting director Christian Heidel said on Monday. “He took on the task at a difficult time with a lot of passion and meticulousness and gave the team good impetus with his work. 

“Unfortunately, this did not translate into a fundamental turnaround or results. The situation in the relegation battle has become significantly worse for us in the last few weeks. Unfortunately, we now see the change in the coaching position as a necessary step in order to be able to bring about a positive turnaround.”

Bad start

After two top half finishes in a row under former player Bo Svensson, the current season began in awful style for Mainz. The Danish coach began the campaign with five defeats in the opening six games with the only point coming in a 1-1 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt. A loss to Bayern Munich was then sandwiched between successive 2-2 draws with Mönchengladbach and VfL Bochum,

The dismal run led the club to take the difficult decision to part company with the popular and loyal Bo Svensson. The man they entrusted to dig them out of their hole was U23 coach Jan Siewert and the appointment of an ‘insider’ was seen as the ideal solution.

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Bad middle

The new coach got off to the perfect start with a 2-0 win over RB Leipzig at the Mewa Arena to finally give the  long-suffering fans something to cheer. Their form however quickly returned to type. Although they have lost fewer matches, the next eleven matches failed to produce a single win (six draws and five defeats). Four of the losses were by the same 1-0 scoreline and in that eleven game run, Mainz scored only five goals. They are joint bottom alongside newcomers Darmstadt and it is extremely difficult to see where the next win is going to come from.

Confidence is obviously low and the players admitted as much following their 3-1 loss at Stuttgart on Sunday. “It’s brutally disappointing  to have taken another hit. It’s just shit at the moment, a shitty situation,” said Jonathan Burkardt. “After the 0-1 we collapsed completely, completely lost track and especially our head. The last 20-30 minutes in the first half were a disgrace” the striker added. 

Good/ bad end?

Mainz have moved quickly to appoint their third coach of the season with Dane Bo Henriksen being handed a contract until 2026. The 49-year-old was the coach at Swiss side FC Zurich, but had informed the club he would not be extending his contract, which expired at the end of this season.

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“We have looked intensively at our current situation and analysed which type of coach with which footballing approach suits us in this difficult sporting situation” explained sporting director Christian Heidel. 

“This led us to Bo Henriksen, a coach who has repeated this in his career and managed to form teams under very different conditions and to play football that was equally pragmatic, but also courageous and ultimately successful. In addition, Bo Henriksen is a very emotional, open and opinionated character who radiates an incredibly positive energy and  will fit very well with Mainz 05.”

The new coach has 13 games left to save Mainz’s season and secure another year of Bundesliga football. 


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