Manager Mirko Slomka will know that his side avoided relegation by a very narrow five points last season, and lifting his side further out of that relegation dogfight will be the priority this season. After a summer of changes, Slomka will be looking to improve on last year’s narrow escape from relegation. Whether or not he can pull it off is another matter altogether.
American international and 96 captain, Steve Cherundolo, will be key to his side’s survival chances this term. Cherundolo’s attack-minded approach to the game adds another dimension to 96 going forward. He will need to be wary of leaving too much space behind him when he advances from that right-back position though, as his aging legs will see him get caught out by some of the Bundesliga’s quicker players. Cherundolo plays with the heart and determination that the USMNT embodied during the World Cup, and for that reason he will be an asset to his side once again this season.
Cote d’Ivoire international Didier Konan will be another key player for 96 this season. Functioning as the side’s trequartista, Konan will look to drop into space between the opposition midfield and defence. He will also look to play off of the central striker, who will most likely be Jan Schlaudraff. After joining the club in 2009, Konan has settled into the area quite quickly and has even been amongst the goals for Hannover.
Austrian hard-man Emmanuel Pogatetz has joined the club from Middlesborough in England’s second division. Pogatetz can play any position across the back-line, and even in a defensive midfield role. His aggressive playing style will suit 96; he will put everything on the line to make sure his side are successful. The Austrian is accustomed to fits of absolute rage, though. Time and again we’ve seen him sent off after seeing the red mist. He will need to learn to keep a cool head, or he will be more costly than he will be useful for 96.
Hannover 96 look destined for relegation. Over the summer, they’ve lost Hanno Balitsch, Jan Rosenthal, and Arouna Kone just to name a few. The squad, at least on paper, was better equipped to escape relegation last season than it is this time around.
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