(Reuters) - Mainz 05 coach Bo Svensson played down the growing expectations for the new Bundesliga season after his team kept clear of any relegation threats and eventually finished just outside the European spots for their best finish in six years.
Mainz were one of the success stories of the past Bundesliga campaign along with fellow Bundesliga minnows Freiburg and Union Berlin, who earned Europa League spots.
"The club had some difficult years and we kind of lost our way. But just because we had a good season does not mean we can automatically take the next step," Svensson told a virtual media roundtable.
"Because we were eighth, it does not mean we will be seventh or sixth next season."
The 42-year-old Dane joined Mainz in January 2021 from Austrian club FC Liefering, and his many years spent as a Mainz player and then assistant coach paid off instantly as he turned their season around and kept the team up.
His work that season earned him praise from former Mainz coach and current Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp, and this past season the team went one better, battling for a European spot until the end.
But Svensson knows this counts for little next season as his team will again be up against clubs that are financially far stronger.
The Bundesliga will also welcome Werder Bremen and Schalke 04 back after they won promotion.
"We played a good season and we want to build on that. It's very boring but we have to be humble. It is just 18 months ago that we were playing against relegation," he said.
"We have a lot of respect for the Bundesliga. Bremen and Schalke are promoted. There are a lot of clubs that can be in contention for European places," he said.
"You have a league and different approaches. Bayern, with a great budget, they don't want to win just the league, they want the Cup and to contend for the Champions League. Their financial strength underlines these ambitions."
Bayern's annual turnover tops 650 million euros ($680 million), making it the richest club in Germany and among the wealthiest in Europe. They have won the last 10 consecutive league titles.
In comparison, Mainz' annual turnover is under 100 million euros.
"We are in the same league but with a different approach, a different starting point to the season. We try to keep up on different areas," Svensson said.
"It is important to tell the story that it is not all about money although money plays a very important role in where you finish at the end of the year."
($1 = 0.9552 euros)
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Hugh Lawson)