The Bundesliga sack race has started a little earlier than normal this season with Schalke coach David Wagner the first to get the bullet. His dismissal after just two matchdays would have come as no surprise, but a day later Mainz have fired coach Achim Beierlorzer following a torrid week at the Opel Arena.
The Nullfünfer’s 4-1 home defeat to VfB Stuttgart came on the heels of their opening weekend loss at RB Leipzig, but the major bone of contention at the Karneval club was the controversy that erupted in the middle of last week concerning the demotion to the U-23 squad of striker Adam Szalai.
In solidarity for their colleague the first team squad refused to attend training on Wednesday leading to sporting director Rouwen Schröder having to face the press on Thursday and admit candidly that all was not well with the Nullfünfer.
“The team has undertaken a solidarity action for Adam. The Szalai issue has absolutely nothing to do with salary concerns. We already informed Adam in the summer how the sporting situation stands and that we could not guarantee him enough playing time; not even in light of the European Championship of 2021.
Rumours had emerged that Szalai was a driving force in the players demands for deferred salaries from the Covid 19 lockdown to be paid, while other rumours outlined a complete breakdown in the relationship with coach Beierlorzer, who wouldn’t give the player the game time he so desired.
“The fact that the team did not come to training is a very uncomfortable situation” Schröder explained. “It is definitely an escalation, no need to sugar coat things. But it happened and we have to deal with it.”
And deal with it they have with the coach taking the fall for the whole sorry situation. Having seemingly ‘lost the dressing room’ Beierlorzer, who only took over from Sandro Schwarz last November has been sacked for the second time within the space of a year (he left Köln after just 13 games in charge last season).
“Together, we’ve been examining the club’s sporting direction and the question of how we can take into account new developments, alongside how we can motivate and inspire the team in the short term and with a view to the future” sporting director Schröder explained.
“The result of these open and honest talks is that the club will not be continuing to work with Achim Beierlorzer. His time at the club was characterised by a successful fight against relegation and the difficult working conditions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Achim Beierlorzer deserves a lot of respect for his work and his attitude throughout this difficult time that has affected us all.”
Mainz have quickly sought to promote from within with 40-year-old former assistant coach Jan-Moritz Lichte taking control for the ongoing season. We have our first and second places in this season’s sack race, who is going to take the other podium finish and come third?