Mainz 05 last qualified for a European competition seven years ago. The coach back then: Martin Schmidt. In an interview, the FSV sports director explains why those responsible are relying on a similar strategy in 2023 as back then.
A Mainz constant: sports director Martin Schmidt.
In 2015/16, 1. FSV Mainz 05 had reached the ominous 40 points after 25 match days. Bo Svensson’s team is currently 37th. They are also three points short of sixth place in the table. When it comes to setting goals, there are parallels between then and now.
Mr. Schmidt, in 2016 Mainz moved into the Europa League with you as coach and Christian Heidel as head of sport. How did you deal with the goal setting in the second half of the season?
Totally relaxed. We didn’t actively address it internally at the time, we didn’t formulate it as a goal externally, and we didn’t have a team meeting five games before the end to talk about what we could achieve. We only talked about performance. But it was also clear to us that if we continue to perform, we will definitely be in the top ten, which was certainly an ambitious goal at the time. But we continued to work normally the whole time and left the focus on ourselves. In fact, everything was like it is now.
In a situation like this, doesn’t it also need new goals?
The team and the coaching staff are motivated from within anyway and don’t lose twice on purpose so that they have nothing to do with the European starting places. Goals always make sense for a club like Mainz 05, but only for short periods of time. With long-distance goals, you run the risk of losing sight of them early on. That would be tripping ourselves up because we were running the risk of artificially creating disappointment.
We can judge our role well, for us everything has to fit together for maximum success in our performance. One of our guiding principles in 2016 was: performance can be planned, but success cannot. We did well with that, we were absolutely calm, which also contributed to us finishing sixth in the end. We didn’t say the word “Europa League” as a club goal until the 34th match day.
Was it on the index?
Not at all, we simply didn’t address it internally and thus didn’t push it further. Of course, we were often asked, and that’s not a problem as long as the focus of the players is on performance.
How do you see the current development?
After four wins and a draw in a row, the old home strength is back, at the same time we have become more solid away from home. We gained a decisive distance down. The last matchday shows how tight it is in the table. We managed to draw against fourth-placed Freiburg, but we lost two places in the table.
On the other hand, Mainz has reduced the gap to sixth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt by one point to three points…
… that’s what makes it so crazy on this match day, especially when we’re asked about goals. Have we gotten better or worse now? We shouldn’t worry about that. We are currently ninth, a single-digit place in the table is always something big with our possibilities.
Given the 37 points, shouldn’t Mainz set a new goal soon?
We say quite frankly that we would like to maintain a single-digit position in the top ten. That’s an ambitious goal for Mainz 05 and doesn’t rule anything out.