After his last home game as the “Lilien” coach, Markus Anfang was already thinking about the new season.

He stood on uneven ground at the Böllenfalltorstadion construction site and said he was concerned about the near future.

It was decided and announced that important players would say goodbye, there were no well-known newcomers in sight, and the budget was limited in times of Corona.

And that before a season in which the second division would be populated by so many heavyweight (traditional) clubs than ever before.

Shortly afterwards, Anfang presented those responsible in Darmstadt with a fait accompli despite the current contract and switched to another heavyweight for a fee: Werder Bremen. On this Sunday (1.30 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the 2nd Bundesliga and on Sky) there will be a reunion at the Böllenfalltor, which now looks much less like a construction site. The South Hesse (13 points), who are very satisfied with the new coach Torsten Lieberknecht, are almost on a par with the North Germans (14).

What did the beginning cause and leave behind the “lilies”?

The overall result of the one-year intermezzo at the beginning is good.

After a long stay on the verge of relegation, he led the SVD to seventh place (51 points) thanks to a brilliant second half of the season.

And yet he was a coach who polarized - more internally than externally.

Someone who sometimes overwhelmed the "lily" business, or at least made a permanent effort.

Dominance and possession

At first, ambition and impatience, aspiration and self-confidence did not stop at rigorously changing the way of playing.

Dominance and possession of the ball were the most important catchwords.

There was little time between the one extreme, Dirk Schuster who refused ball possession (until February 2019) and the ball possession fetishist at the beginning (from July 2020).

Anyone who signs Markus Anfang must know what they are getting back then as now: an expert who has an immovable game philosophy and who (mostly successfully) imposes on his teams.

He takes an approach that almost conjures up a lot of goals and a lot of goals against.

Until the end, the Darmstadt audience and some players felt a certain discomfort.

The beginning relied on fixed processes that were as automated as possible.

He gave everyone a timetable, so to speak, the contents of which had to be adhered to precisely in all positions.

That came at the expense of independent decisions by the players on the pitch, which should not have pleased all professionals.

It is not uncommon for the "lilies" to maneuver themselves into stressful situations at the back and lull them to the front with their long ball possession phases.

Lieberknecht found a team - although changed in many positions - that felt much more comfortable in possession than previous "Lilien" vintages. But he has already indicated that it took some effort to loosen the patterns that had persisted for a year from the players' heads. Although the beginning in the tabular distress had moved away from his approach despite stomach grief - and thus ultimately initiated the upswing in the second half of the season, in which some players appeared to have been loosened from a tactical bondage.

The way of playing after initial rethinking has quite similarities with Lieberknecht's approach to making the "Lilien" game more straightforward and effective. "In the past season we finally had a successful season due to the turnaround that started with the away game in Paderborn in March", says Rüdiger Fritsch of the FAZ. “What matters is the present. And we are very satisfied with it. We are happy to have a trainer in Torsten Lieberknecht who is a perfect match for us with his style and who is aware of the possibilities in Darmstadt, which are now absolutely competitive, ”said Fritsch.

Lieberknecht stands for rolled up sleeves and care at the same time.

Things that the beginning couldn't really offer.

The players welcome his communication style, which includes everyone and leaves no one in the dark about their current standing.

The man from the Palatinate is more appealing in person with his embracing rather than demanding manner.

Lieberknecht has already been celebrated with chants at the Böllenfalltor - and no coach in Darmstadt has been granted that for a long time.

The 48-year-old is acting "forward-looking in order to have long-term success with us," says Fritsch.

And the “long-term” can be understood to mean that the SVD leadership cannot imagine that Lieberknecht could disembark after just one season like his predecessor.

The fact that the beginning of midfielder Nicolai Rapp, who was on the verge of an agreement on continued employment in Darmstadt in the summer, still rerouted to Bremen, hurt the SVD even more.

Whether central defender Lars Lukas Mai, on loan from FC Bayern, would have stayed in southern Hesse for another year is uncertain, but he too followed the Weser at the beginning.

Now the trio is back - if only for one game.

Keywords: torsten lieberknecht, werder bremen, coach, darmstadt, markus anfang, season, departure, expert, all, lilien, legacy, players, patterns, home game, times