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August 4, 2011

Hanover exceeded all expectations last season, finishing in fourth place.

Hanover coach Mirko Slomka
Coach Mirko Slomka might be building something at HanoverImage: AP

Before last year's big breakthrough, Hanover seemed like just another club that was too big to get relegated but not big enough to mount a serious ascent toward the table's summit. They'd never finished better than fifth, and that was all the way back in 1965.

Last season the club was up in the European places virtually all season. And fans now feel confident that, barring injury trouble, there's no reason Hanover can't hold steady at that level. In Sporting Director Jörg Schmadtke and coach Mirko Slomka they have perhaps the smartest pair of heads in the league - the former putting together a young, robust squad on the cheap, and the latter tailoring tactics that play to its strengths.

Fun fact: Hanover President Martin Kind, a hearing aid magnate, is one of the few Bundesliga execs who want to allow individuals to own teams outright.

Author: Matt Hermann
Editor: Sean Sinico