Mainz’s recent form bears no semblance with their form midway through the season. The turnaround has been dramatic: from firm relegation candidates to becoming one of the league’s top sides. What caused this drastic turnaround? Simple. Bo Svensson.
Midway through the season, their 12 season existence in the Bundesliga was under threat. Mainz were struggling to come out of relegation waters alongside Schalke, at one stage even level with the Royal Blues on points.
Bo Svensson was called upon from FC Liefer, in the Austrian second division, to do the improbable: keep them in the Bundesliga. As a former player of Die Nullfünfer, Svensson is not a stranger to the Mainz setup. The Danish tactician spent seven seasons at the club, learning from some of the game’s greatest modern-day coaches like Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel. After retiring as a player, he began his coaching career as an assistant coach for the team, before taking on the under-19’s.
In 2019, he joined Austrian club FC Liefering in their promotion hunt to the Austrian Bundesliga. He achieved a third place finish in 2019-20, and had the club in second place before departing for Mainz at the start of the year. Unlike most coaches, he prioritized a long-term development plan for his new club team rather than quick fixes and short-term ambitions. The strategy paid off, and Mainz have been the sixth best team in the league since he took over.
Although their recent three-match win streak was punctured by a draw to Hertha Berlin, Mainz still has a 90-percent chance of surviving in the Bundesliga this season. The team currently sit on 35 points, on a nine-match unbeaten run since early February. Had Bo Svensson been the manager right them from the very start, it’s possible that Mainz would be challenging for Europe right now. But their work is not over yet.
To complete this turnaround, Mainz have 3 mountains to climb: Frankfurt, Dortmund, and Wolfsburg. All three clubs are currently battling for a place within the top four in the league, and Mainz will have to put their best foot forward in order to win. However, if they replicate the form which earned them a dynamite victory against Bayern Munich, they could easily propel themselves into the top half of the table.
From relegation contenders to one of the league’s most efficient sides, Bo Svensson has achieved wonders in his time in charge of Mainz so far. Next campaign, Mainz could do even better, and reach the top half of the table, if not push for a place in Europe. But in the meantime, now that they look destined to survive, this season will go down as one of the greatest in the annals of FSV Mainz 05.