The ten-goal defeat in the 108th Schleswig-Holstein derby was one painful defeat too many. One day after the 19:29 at THW Kiel, the handball Bundesliga club SG Flensburg-Handewitt announced the release of coach Maik Machulla on Monday afternoon. For Flensburg, who had already been eliminated in the semi-finals of the national cup and had missed the final tournament in the European League in their own hall, the defeat at their big rival was the third chance of winning the title within just eight days.

“We have looked intensively at the situation and the appearance of the team and have come to the decision that we now have to give new impetus. It is now a matter of securing qualification for a European competition in the remaining eight games,” SG Managing Director Holger Glandorf was quoted as saying in a press release. The Dutch assistant coach Mark Bult will be responsible for the performance of the training until further notice.

In the table, the Flensburg team is currently in fourth place with 39:13 points. At the top are tied Kiel and Füchse Berlin (43:9 each). Defending champion SC Magdeburg is in third place with 43:11 points.

Johannes Golla, captain of the SG and the German national team, stood in front of his 46-year-old coach after the defeat in Kiel. “If the team makes mistakes, you can’t blame Maik,” said the line runner. But Machulla, whose contract had been prematurely extended in April 2021 to June 30, 2026, did not use Golla’s support either.

Above all, it was the lack of a chance in the cup semi-final against the eventual winner Rhein-Neckar Löwen, in the quarter-final second leg of the European League against Fraikin BM Granollers from Spain and also in the northern derby against THW that ultimately drove those responsible to act. The team, which had previously played 21 games in all competitions without defeat, looked helpless and disoriented.

Even after the defeat against Granollers, the frosty atmosphere in the environment was clearly noticeable. “I can’t control what happens. I can only influence my work,” Machulla said after the game against the Spaniards last Tuesday. That too is now history.

Machulla came to Flensburg in 2012 as a standby player and assistant to the then coach Ljubomir Vranjes. Together with the Swede, he won the Champions League in 2014 and the DHB Cup in 2015. In 2017, the native of Greifswald took over as head coach and led the SG to the championship in 2018 and 2019.

“Maik shaped an era at SG. He has done an excellent job over the past few years and has led us to great success. We are very grateful to him for that,” said Glandorf, emphasizing the not easy but necessary decision after Machulla’s almost six-year tenure as head coach.

Parts of the Flensburg team may have been surprised by Machulla’s release on the way to their national teams. The new boss Bult, whose working paper was also extended in February until the end of the 2025/26 season, is faced with the dilemma of preparing for the next game on May 4th against MT Melsungen in the upcoming two-week international break. A mammoth task given that some players will not return from their national teams until May 1st.