CHe last met hristian Heidel on Mallorca, he says Sandro Black. "It was a different atmosphere." A cautious paraphrase for Heidel's birthday party and of course completely different circumstances than on Friday evening (8:30 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the Bundesliga and at DAZN) will be specified if the coach of Hertha BSC and the sports director of FSV Mainz 05 do not forget their friendship, but face each other as opponents in the Bundesliga for 90 minutes.
Depending on how the game goes, Schwarz might use the opportunity afterwards to ask his former mentor whether he would have fired him in November 2019 if he had been in office at the time. After that 2:3 home defeat against Union Berlinafter which some fans and members of the supervisory board felt compelled to propagate the head coach’s sacking behind the goal.
The sports director at the time kept up with the developing dynamics Rouven Schroeder did not stand and Schwarz resigned the following day, contrary to his own conviction. A knee-jerk reaction due to an unsatisfactory table situation, which culminated in one of the most absurd phases in the club's history a week later with the signing of Achim Beierlorzer.
“Reflect and gain distance”
For Mainz, things took off after a grueling time, two more coaching changes and Heidel's return as sports director with the former coach Martin Schmidt as sports director in tow, a happy ending within a hair's breadth. Under coach Bo Svensson, the team found their way back to Mainz 05 football and the fans found the team fun again.
Schwarz, on the other hand, experienced a chapter that was sportingly successful after a break of eleven months, which he needed to "reflect on the events at his home club and gain some distance", but took a dramatic turn after a year and a half. As a result, he could well have become a bogeyman of the German trainers' guild. In any case, public understanding was limited when the 44-year-old continued to work at Dynamo Moscow even after the start of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Especially since colleagues like Daniel Farke and Markus Gisdol quickly pitched their tents in Russia.
However, the starting positions of the trio differed significantly. Farke, now at Borussia Mönchengladbach, had not yet played a competitive game with FK Krasnodar. And Gisdol was with Lokomotiv after four and a half months Moscow in criticism.
"It might have been easier to say goodbye," says Sandro Schwarz. "There were also considerations of leaving Moscow, we have repeatedly questioned our commitment." But no matter how exhausting and nerve-wracking the time after February 24th was: "On the one hand, I could and wanted the team, the staff, the people in the Club with which I had developed a close connection, not let them down. On the other hand, the club had a clear stance on this war of aggression, which made it possible for me to stay.”
This included his international striker Fedor Smolow being among the first Russian professionals to publicly condemn Putin's invasion. Schwarz was backed by his former Mainz teammate and Moscow co-trainer Andrej Voronin. Although the Ukrainian withdrew to Germany after the outbreak of war, he spoke positively about Schwarz's sense of responsibility.
Painful months in Moscow
Schwarz had temporarily flown his wife and two children to Turkey, and at Dynamo he went through painful, tearful months in the last few months. Mainly because of the political situation from which he and his players suffered, but ultimately also for sporting reasons.
"The fact that we lost the cup final, our last game together, 2-1 and missed a penalty in stoppage time, was bitter," he says. “The final event was an emotional rollercoaster ride. On the one hand, there was great joy that we could still be together for four hours. On the other hand, we suffered because we would split up afterwards. There were a lot of tears."
It could also be emotional on Friday evening when Sandro Schwarz is with Hertha BSC comes to the arena at the Europakreisel for the first time as an opposing coach. He is looking forward to seeing many old acquaintances again, says the native of Mainz, who has played 101 second division games for the 05ers and worked as a U-19, U-23 and Bundesliga coach for more than six years.
How will the fans react to him? "I have no idea, I didn't think about that either." Most would probably know about his Bruchweg past. "So I don't think they're going to throw beer mugs at me."