Mike Hanke: The striker who doesn’t score goals.

Posted on November 9, 2011


The improvements in Borussia Monchengladbach over the last six months have been quite remarkable under Swiss coach Lucien Favre.

Favre took over from Michael Frontzeck in February with Gladbach stranded at the bottom of the Bundesliga but a 360-degree turn in form from Die Fohlen resulted in Favre’s men securing their position in the German top-flight.

And their change in fortune doesn’t stop there with Gladbach sitting pretty in fourth place, just five points behind league-leaders FC Bayern.

In comparison to their rivals, Gladbach have a surprising, yet very successful, combination with not as many goals being scored in attack and very few goals being conceded.

The swashbuckling style of play in the Bundesliga means that Gladbach are one of only a few clubs who pride themselves on being difficult to break down and scoring enough at the other end.

Mirko Slomka’s Hannover would be the only other successful example of this more conservative play.

But by no means are Gladbach limited in attack and pin-up boy Marco Reus has been a revelation this season, attracting interest from FC Bayern and Manchester City, amongst others.

Another interesting aspect of Gladbach’s attack is the enigmatic workhorse that is 28-year-old Mike Hanke.

The striker has yet to score in eleven matches this season and has scored just once in Gladbach colours since he joined on a free in the summer of 2010.

But having played more than half of their Bundesliga games, Hanke must be ticking the right boxes, despite his goalscoring drought, to maintain a place in a top-five side.

An inconsistent feature in the first-team under Frontzeck, Hanke has become an important part of Lucien Favre’s side who are aiming for a place in next year’s Champions League.

The Hamm-born striker started his career at Schalke and played 25 times in the 2003/2004 campaign where the Royal Blues finished runners-up with Jupp Heynckes and Ralf Rangnick in the dugout.

Even with just five goals that season, a 1-in-5 ratio, he still commanded a £4m move to VfL Wolfsburg with Klaus Augenthaler in charge.

Hanke netted eight goals in consecutive seasons at the Volkswagen Arena but Wolfsburg struggled and only just avoided relegation in both campaigns.

Hanke then swapped Wolfsburg for Hannover 96 after a £4.5m move from Wolfsburg in 2007 where he scored 19 league goals in his four seasons with the club.

With 14 appearances last season and 11 starts this campaign at Borussia Park, it would appear Hanke is an integral part of Favre’s short-term plans with the club.

The 28-year-old works well in Favre’s more ‘traditional’ 4-4-2 alongside the talented youngster Marco Reus.

Hanke’s energy and work-rate makes him a very good outball for Favre’s side who make sure they have every man behind the ball if the opposition is in possession.

In the midfield, the usual wide-men Juan Arango and Patrick Herrmann tend to tuck-in to support Havard Nordtveit and Roman Neustadter.

Reus was quoted previously that working off the ball is a key part of Gladbach’s philiosophy which leaves Hanke as the furthest forward to hold the ball up when Die Fohlen retain possession.

His good hold-up play has kept him involved in Gladbach’s attacks and he has one assist to his name this season and has created 43 chances in 11 games.

As Favre’s side continue to compete at the top of the table, it will be interesting to see whether their lack of scoring ability will be a hindrance towards the end of the campaign.

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