With only three games remaining in the 2. Bundesliga season, Jahn Regensburg look like heavy favourites to go down. But they’ll go into those three games with a new coach – American Joe Enochs took charge this week after defeat to Hansa Rostock saw Mersad Selimbegović finally forced out.
Having reigned from 2019 until last week, Selimbegović was the second-longest serving coach in the 2. Bundesliga behind only Frank Schmidt. It’s fair to say that he had outstayed his welcome; Jahn have won just twice since the winter break, scoring only nine goals, and Selimbegović had apparently fallen out with more than a few people too – namely Andreas Gehlen, Ronny Zeiss and Sebastian Dreier, all members of his coaching team who have suddenly left during the season.
In a year that has seen lots of turmoil behind the scenes at the Jahnstadion, Selimbegović has been one of few constants. That might not have been a good thing – reports from the local Mittelbayrische Zeitung suggest he may have had more influence in the boardroom than a coach should do, with President Hans Rothammer criticised for following Selimbegović blindly. Only now has Rothammer seen what most people, including sporting director Tobias Werner, had for months. To blame only Selimbegović would be wrong though, because both Werner and his predecessor Roger Stilz have made mistakes.
So now comes Joe Enochs. Enochs was coach of 3. Liga side FSV Zwickau until February this year, when he was sacked after dropping into the relegation zone. Before that, the American was coach of VfL Osnabrück, where he is a club legend.
Regensburg fans may feel sceptical about employing a coach who was sacked by both Zwickau and Osnabrück, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Zwickau have one of the smallest budgets in the league, and Enochs was able to keep them in the third tier for four seasons, finishing in the top half for three of those seasons. Since he went in February, the team has not improved and is expected to go down. With Osnabrück, he managed two strong league finishes before struggling in his third year. The trend suggests Enochs will win over fans, and do well for a while, but does have his limits.
He has been given a contract until the summer of 2024 which is valid in both the 2. Bundesliga and 3. Liga, so he’ll be in charge next year no matter what division the club is in. Enochs has actually coached in the 2. Bundesliga with Osnabrück before as a caretaker for two games back in 2011. It’s up to him to make this spell in the second tier last a bit longer. The first of Regensburg’s three remaining games is at home to third-placed Hamburg on Sunday; Enochs has beaten HSV before, knocking them out of the cup with Osnabrück in 2017, when Hamburg were still a Bundesliga side.
After that, they’ll play Braunschweig (now the only team in the relegation battle who haven’t changed coaches this year), and then Heidenheim on the final day. Those are three fixtures that have huge significance not just for Jahn but for their opponents too, who all have lots to play for themselves at the moment. It’s possible that Heidenheim could have promotion sealed, especially if Regensburg can take any points off Hamburg before that, which could be a big boost to the chances of Regensburg getting a result.
Jahn are currently two points behind Bielefeld in the playoff spot – they surely need at least one win if they are to make it to 16th place. With their tough run in, it’s no easy task for Enochs – even if he gets three great performances out of his new team, it may not be enough. If Jahn show any signs of improvement under Enochs, Jahn will surely regret not making the switch sooner.