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Hanover boss Slomka

'Grief for Enke has affected the whole club'

A goalless draw in Hamburg and last week's 4-2 victory over Schalke suggest struggling Hannover have rediscovered their form at the right time after losing nine games on the trot between mid-November and late-February. The Lower Saxony side are on their third coach of the season after Mirko Slomka took over at the start of the year. asked the ex-Schalke coach about Saturday's Bayern clash, and an unusual motivational trip last week.

Interview: Mirko Slomka Mirko Slomka, Uli Hoeneß has been known to send a couple of packs of his famous Nuremberg sausages to clubs who lend Bayern third-party help. Any indications of a parcel arriving in Hannover this week?
Mirko Slomka: "Unfortunately not, but in any case, I'd rather have points than sausages from Munich! And if so, I'm guessing I'd be sent finest steak by [Schalke boss] Clemens Tönnies!"

Your 4-2 win over Schalke mainly helped your own club. Was the win the turning point in your fight against relegation?
"It was important, very important in fact, both for our position in the table and our confidence. My team finally showed the fans and indeed themselves what they're capable of when every player goes to the limit and we play as a team. We need to build on that."

From outside, it looks as if Hannover 96 as a club was thrown way off course or even paralysed by the tragic death of Robert Enke. What was your impression on taking over in mid-January?
"It wasn't paralysis, it was deep uncertainty. Naturally, our grief over Robert Enke and his tragic death is a burden on the club as a whole and the players as individuals. But we have to stay in the Bundesliga. We all know that, and that's our sole focus at present."

You played second-placed Schalke last week, and now you meet the leaders. What are you expecting in Munich?
"Bayern are obviously the favourites, but we'll go there with renewed confidence. And Bayern have a crucial match on Wednesday, where they can seal Germany's fourth Champions League qualifying spot."

Indeed, FCB face Lyon in the semi-finals just a matter of days later. Is that an advantage for your team?
"I can't answer that, but as I've said: Bayern face Lyon on behalf of German football as a whole. That's a great responsibility."

How badly will you miss injured attackers Elson and Koné?
"They're both class players, but we have to replace them, and I'm confident we can."

You took your team to watch ice hockey before facing Schalke. Why was that, and have you thought of something similar this week?
"The Scorpions hockey players and my team represent Hannover, and obviously have a special relationship. My players also saw for themselves the importance of pressing and continuous tackling. They reproduced it against Schalke. I don't think they need a second lesson."

How probable is it that you'll bring Hannover to Munich in the Bundesliga next season?
"I'm confident we'll be seen and heard in Munich next term. We know how difficult a task it is, but we're up for it. The Hannover region needs a Bundesliga club, as we like having special guests like Bayern come and visit."