First the spokeswoman, then Bo Svensson and finally the fans – the reception for Sandro Schwarz in Mainz was very friendly from all sides around 20 minutes before the start of the game. After the first two warmly hugged the 43-year-old, the 05 supporters, probably also due to time constraints, left it at extensive applause and ended loudly what the stadium announcer began full of expectation; “Sandro?” – “Black!” The native of Mainz said after the game: “A big thank you to the people who welcomed me here very appreciatively.”
Sandro Schwarz was under contract with Mainz 05 for a little over 15 years. He played for the B and A youth, played 100 second division games and rose to the Bundesliga in 2004 in his last season with Mainz. In 2013 he returned as U19 coach, then coached the U23 and became the professional coach for the 2017/18 season.
At the time, Sandro Schwarz seemed predestined to become the next successful Mainz coach – especially since he was associated with everyone in whose footsteps he was to follow. Under Wolfgang Frank, with whom everything good began, as they like to emphasize in Mainz, he played the same way as under Jürgen Klopp, who was also his team-mate. And Thomas Tuchel was head coach when Sandro Schwarz became U19 coach. Also important in the resume of a Mainz coach: Christian Heidel himself brought him to the club – and was already convinced back then that Schwarz would one day take over the professionals, as he recently assured the Tagesspiegel .
It was Rouven Schröder who promoted Sandro Schwarz to Bundesliga coach five years ago – and released him in 2019 after just over two seasons. It was the end of an overall disappointing time for Schwarz as 05 coach: Even the little-loved successor Achim Beierlorzer had a better point average afterwards. The time in Mainz was formative and intense for him, Sandro Schwarz said last week before his return: “I owe Mainz 05 a lot.”
After a 19-month stint at Dynamo Moscow, he returned to the Bundesliga earlier this season, taking over at Hertha BSC. In Berlin, Schwarz is not the only one with a 05 past. Just like before in Moscow (Andrej Voronin), in Tamás Bódog he has brought along a former teammate as an assistant coach. There are also midfielder Suat Serdar, whom Schwarz has known since the U19s, and new signing Jean Paul Boetius, who spent the last four years with the carnival club. Boetius replaced the sick Serdar in the starting XI against their former club.
Schwarz applies Mainz principles in Berlin – with success
In Mainz, Bo Svensson has just managed to do what Schwarz didn’t seem able to do in his home town: under Svensson, who, by the way, was full of praise for his predecessor, FSV has found its way back to the much-touted Mainz path. On the field, this means a high level of intensity, a willingness to run and quick changeover football, as well as the greatest possible identification with the characters involved.
Around three years after leaving Mainz, Sandro Schwarz is now trying to establish something similar at the former Big City Club. Before the game in Mainz, he did that with two good performances in Augsburg (2-0) and at home against Bayer Leverkusen (2-2). His style is well received in Berlin, and the recent point wins also prove his game idea right.
Newcomers seem better integrated than in previous years and high-priced players like Dodi Lukebakio or Lucas Tousart finally seem to be arriving in the capital. The goal to make it 1-0 in Mainz on Friday evening was symbolic of this: Tousart headed in the 30th minute to take the lead at the break from a cross from Chidera Ejuke, who was repeatedly strong. It was the reward for a first half in which Hertha was the better of two mediocre teams.
The second half was characterized primarily by the fact that referee Frank Willenborg increasingly lost control of the action. The game, which was already underwhelming in the first half, suffered as a result. Naturally, this does less harm to the team in the lead than to the team that urgently needs a goal. Mainz didn’t create a really good chance until the 94th minute. Then Anthony Caci equalized with the last action of the game and robbed Sandro Schwarz of the away win in his old home country. “The goal was extremely bitter, it feels brutal,” he said afterwards at the press conference. Then he had to leave quickly, the plane to Berlin was waiting.
But there was still time to say goodbye: first he hugged Bo Svensson and then the Mainz press officer. The 05 fans were celebrating someone else with goal scorer Caci.