Union Berlin rebuilding continues as it appoints Bo Svensson as coach

BERLIN (AP) — After just barely clinching Bundesliga survival on the last day of the season, Union Berlin has wasted little time in presenting a new coach and sporting director.

Union announced on Thursday that former Mainz coach Bo Svensson will take charge of the team, two days after it announced Horst Heldt will take over as sporting director from Oliver Ruhnert. Ruhnert reportedly wanted to return to his previous role as head scout.

The 44-year-old Svensson enjoyed a mostly successful spell in charge of Mainz from January 2001 to November last year, saving the team from relegation in his first season, then placing eighth and ninth in the following seasons. He resigned after starting this season without any wins in the first nine games.

Union’s start wasn’t much better. Urs Fischer, who led the Köpenick-based team to promotion in 2019 and ever higher in the seasons since, was forced to go after 14 games without a win. Nenad Bjelica took over until he was fired with two games remaining. Interim coach Marco Grote ultimately did enough in the last two games to clinch survival.

The season started full of optimism with Union in the Champions League playing against Real Madrid, but the club’s new signings upset the balance of the team and failed to offset the departures.

Svensson should be a good fit. Like Fischer, the Dane favors hard-working players who are prepared to sacrifice their efforts for the benefit of the team. It remains to be seen if last year’s summer arrivals like former Germany internationals Robin Gosens and Kevin Volland remain with the club.

“I’ve been watching Union for a long time and I’m sure I’ll find good conditions here for successful work,” Svensson said in a Union statement.

The club did not mention the length of his contract.


AP soccer:

Ciarán Fahey, The Associated Press