New-look season awaits reshuffled under-21s

A new coach and a new set of players attempt to navigate their way through a Regionalliga season full of uncertainty.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused problems at all levels of the footballing pyramid, not least at grassroots level with games cancelled in the middle of the season and uncertainty about when the new one will start. Continual change is one of the hallmarks of academy football but the past six months has seen a whole host of situations for Hamburger SV’s under-21s to adapt to. After the season abruptly ended in March, a considerable number of players left the side, the manager was called up to the first-team coaching staff, all before the new-look squad tried to prepare for a new season in the middle of a pandemic.

The 2019/20 season was one characterised by runs of positive results before long stretches without a win. The Regionalliga Nord, the fourth tier of German football, started in the best possible way for Hannes Drews’ charges with a 5-1 win over Heider SV, a 6-0 win over Holstein Kiel under-23s and an exhilirating 3-3 draw at VfL Wolfsburg under-21s sealed in the last minute by a goal from goalkeeper Joshua Wehking. Seven points from the opening trio of games would be followed by a five game winless run, a pattern that would be repeated throughout the season. 

Only two competitive games were able to be played after the turn of the year, due to scheduling and the famous unpredictable weather in the north of Germany, before games were postponed in March due to the pandemic and the season was officially cancelled in June. Both games in the Regionalliga after Christmas also ended in defeat, meaning that after 22 games in the division, there were six wins, five draws and eleven defeats to the name of Hamburger SV under-21s, to sit in 14th position on 23 points, four places above last-placed HSV Hannover.

The academy hierarchy saw a chance for a fresh start and eleven players including captain Sebastian Haut moved on to pastures new, whilst new first team manager Daniel Thioune requested that the under-21s head coach Hannes Drews joined his coaching staff. Drews was replaced by last year’s under-17s manager Pit Reimers, who has been at the club since 2007 and possesses Germany’s coveted ‘Fußball-Lehrer’ qualification. Reimers inherits a young side, with a number of players moving up from the under-19s, and will be looking to prepare his charges for their first taste of semi-professional football in the unforgiving world of the Regionalliga.

The Regionalliga has seen some changes itself, with 22 teams taking part rather than 18 last year and the whole division split into two ‘qualifying rounds’ of a north and south group. The under-21s find themselves in the northern group, and will play against the ten other teams in the group both home and away. After this phase has been completed, the five best teams from each group will come together for the championship round, whilst there will be a relegation round with the twelve other sides. After weeks of waiting, the season gets underway for Reimers and his charges on the 6th September with a home tie against Lüneburger SK Hansa, and they will be hoping to start the campaign off in a positive manner, setting the tone for what is to come.

Please note that all of the under-21s’ home games will take place behind closed doors. If you travel to the game, you will not be permitted entry. We thank you for your understanding.

Players left the team at the end of the 2019/20 season (new club, if known): Sebastian Haut (SV Rödinghausen), Patrick Storb (FC Energie Cottbus), Joshua Wehking (Fortuna Sittard), Maximilian Geißen, Henrik Giese, Kevin Harr, Justin Huber, Torben Isermann, Khaled Mohssen, Niklas Schneider, Julian Ulbricht.

Squad for 2020/21 season can be viewed here.