As the final whistle blew at the Stadion am Bruchweg on Saturday afternoon, Mainz fans celebrated what many viewed as an impossible record. Seven wins from their opening seven games in this season’s Bundesliga, equalled the record for the best ever start in the league.
After the international break, they have a home match against Hamburg to move ahead as the sole record holders. For a team only in their second season in the top division, it has been a fairytale couple of months.
Thomas Tuchel is the mastermind behind the success. After numerous spells in charge of the youth teams at Stuttgart, Augsburg and Mainz, he was promoted to the managerial role following their promotion in 2008-09, tasked with keeping them in the Bundesliga.
He led them to a surprising 9th placed finish last season, but it is their early season performances this season that have really caught the eye.
Compared to a young Jose Mourinho already, the 37-year-old has racked up wins at Steve McClaren’s Wolfsburg, Werder Bremen, and Bayern Munich, as well as home victories over Stuttgart and Hoffenheim to dispel any notions that their excellent start is due to facing relegation-threatened teams.
It was his performance in the transfer window that has ignited the club this season.
Twenty-two-year-old Hungarian striker, Adam Szalai, came in for a mere €1m from Real Madrid, and has scored three times already this season.
Lewis Holtby has come in on loan from Schalke, and his performances have prompted German national coach, Joachim Low, to suggest that he might be called up for the friendly against Sweden in November.
The 19-year-old product of the Mainz academy, André Schurrle, has also been a revelation. A series of outstanding performances have led to suggestions that he might join teammate Holtby in the national squad against Sweden.
Whether they can continue their form and maintain a challenge for the title is still to be seen. Their title odds have plummeted from 350-1 down to 9-1 with several bookmakers, but Tuchel is playing down their chances, claiming the aim is still to establish themselves in the Bundesliga.
However, it is always refreshing to see new teams in and around the title picture, and Tuchel is building a reputation as a potentially top manager for the future.