‘‘Losing five games in a row doesn’t do much for self-confidence,’’ conceded Hannover 96 manager Andre Breitenreiter in the build-up to his side’s encounter with Werder Bremen on Friday evening.
Given football is all about confidence and momentum, such words are pretty damning in revealing the effects of being out of form.
It can be so difficult to rediscover a winning formula if a side is in a rut. As a result, players are more likely to go into their shells or play without a sense of freedom and expression, as they retreat from playing expansively and to their full potential.
However, this Bundesliga weekend has been significant in terms of struggling teams coming up with the goods to end torrid runs of form.
Hannover themselves were victorious at home to Bremen as striker Martin Harnik also defied his atrocious form of no goals in over 500 minutes of Bundesliga action to give his side the lead in the 16th minute.
— Hannover 96 (@Hannover96) April 6, 2018
A goal is always invaluable in restoring positive feelings for a striker, which in turn must have been a boost for the team as a whole as they went on to win the game. Football is fickle in that respect.
Fernando Torres was a case in point after going from hero to zero following his move from Liverpool to Chelsea. The Spaniard played with a huge weight on his shoulder as he struggled to find the net in his first 13 games for the West London club, not helped by the financial pressure of the £50m price tag on his head.
After finally scoring against West Ham-ending a 903-minute drought for club and country-Torres revealed: ‘‘There’s less pressure on me now. Now I can enjoy it.’’
This sudden switch in mindset was also evident for Harnik and his teammates. The win moves Hannover seven points clear of the relegation zone, and Breitenreiter’s side can surely play with enhanced confidence and liberation for the remaining games of the season.
Having lost 3-2 to Leipzig in their previous game before Bremen, Hannover were cruelly set-back when a late equaliser was contentiously ruled out. However, the manager vowed to take the positives from the defeat and apply them to the Friday night win. Such resilience and optimism is essential to ensure team morale is not abandoned altogether as an upturn in fortunes is sought.
Hamburg are also showing fight and determination despite their poor season as they stunned second-placed Schalke with a 3-2 home win on Saturday.
— Hamburger SV (@HSV) April 7, 2018
Goalscorer Lewis Holtby said after the game:
‘‘We never give up here at Hamburg. If we all pull together and believe in ourselves, we can do it.’’
The odds are firmly against Hamburg in their bid to avoid the drop as they are five points off 16th place Mainz and seven off 15th place Wolfsburg with five games to go.
However, Holtby’s attitude is exactly what the squad will require as they attempt to prove many a pundit wrong who have already written them off this season.
No matter how good a footballing squad may be in terms of ability, it is no use if they are not in exactly the right frame of mind or if the attitude and confidence within the dressing-room has deteriorated.
As both Hamburg and Hannover demonstrated this weekend, it is possible to see light during periods of darkness as long as the mindset remains strong. Both sides will not be going down without a fight.