Coach Kasper Hjulmand dismissed as Mainz slide towards relegation zone

Mainz have sacked coach Kasper Hjulmand after a wretched run of form saw them slide to the brink of the relegation zone.

The Dane, appointed by the Bundesliga club in May, has been replaced by reserve team coach Martin Schmidt.

"Anybody who knows our club's philosophy and way of working will know how hard this decision was for us to take," Mainz general manager Christian Heidel was quoted as saying by the club's official website.

"Kasper is a football expert who, without a doubt, can develop and further his teams.

"However, there were many factors which had led to a negative trend in these last 13 matches and led to us sliding towards the relegation zone."

Hjulmand's reign got off to an inauspicious start as Mainz were knocked out of the Europa League by Asteras Tripolis and suffered another embarrassing defeat to Chemnitz in the first round of the DFB-Pokal.

An eight-game unbeaten start raised hopes of more European football, but Mainz have won only one of the 13 matches since and are just a point above the bottom three after losing 4-2 at Borussia Dortmund on Friday.

After that defeat, the club stayed quiet and did not back Hjulmand amid increasing pressure from the local media.

"In a relegation battle, the criteria is different and that has led to us making a change of coach," Heidel explained.

"We are convinced that Martin Schmidt, together with [assistant coach] Bo Svensson, will be able to give the team back the spark they have been lacking in recent weeks and months."

He said he had informed Hjulmand of his decision in a face-to-face meeting on Monday, adding: "We would like to wish him and his family all the best for the future."

Schmidt, who joined Mainz in 2010, said: "We've now got a lot of work to do, and we can't waste any time."

Mainz host Eintracht Frankfurt in the Rhein-Main derby on Saturday.