After a 3-1 defeat away at Greuther Furth on 27th February 2001, FSV Mainz were on a run of seven games without a win and their place in Bundesliga 2 was under threat. At a hastily convened team meeting shortly afterwards the leading players met with the club management, which had decided to dispense with the services of coach Eckhard Krautzun. A new coach would need to be found who could take the team into the following week’s game against Duisburg.
The senior players were unanimous in their suggestion for Krautzun’s replacement. “Give it to Kloppo!” they urged. Delender Jürgen Klopp had been with the team for over a decade and knew the club inside out. The next day he took charge at training for the first time. Immediately the mood improved. Although only appointed for one game, Mainz never looked back. They beat Duisburg 1-0 and went on a run of six wins and a draw in his first seven games in charge.
Thus began one of the great managerial careers in football. At the third time of asking Klopp steered Mainz into the Bundesliga, having narrowly missed out twice, for the first time in club history. Not only did they confound expectations and stay up, but they finished 11th, comfortably clear of the relegation zone. Eventually being the smallest club in the league caught up with them and they were relegated at the end of the 2006-7 season. Klopp remained in charge, but was unable to steer them back into the Bundesliga and resigned, to take charge at Borussia Dortmund.
Under the guidance of his successor, Thomas Tuchel, Mainz were promoted the following season and remained there ever since. However their place looks more precarious at this stage of the season than at any time in the last decade. Firmly ensconced in the bottom two since September, they will need a strong finish to the season to avoid returning back to Bundesliga 2.