In comparison to the rest of Europe, Berlin is in a pretty healthy financial state. Its premier football team on the other hand isn’t looking too strong on the pitch.
Hertha are proof of how quickly things can change in football. Already this season, the Bundesliga has seen how Lucien Favre’s Gladbach have gone from relegation strugglers last season to current title challengers. Favre used to manage Berlin, even taking them to 4th in the Bundesliga in 2009. The difference with his current club to his former in the capital is that affairs have plummeted in a very short space of time.
Hertha made a good start to the season under Markus Babbel. However, revealing he wouldn’t sign a new contract, General Manager Michael Preetz dispensed with his services left. In came Michael Skibbe but after Saturday’s loss at Stuttgart, the culmination of five consecutive losses in all competitions, he was dismissed.
You might think this is harsh and that it further demonstrates the cut throat nature of the game. Even though Skibbe had only been there for four league games, it’s hard to take the positives out of one of the shortest permanent spells in charge of a football club – Brian Clough would be proud, although to mention Clough in the same sentence as Skibbe feels like an insult to the ex-Nottingham Forest manager.
At least Clough’s tenure at Leeds didn’t see him lose every game. Skibbe’s tenure, more a brief flirtation, at Hertha Berlin was rounded off in Stuttgart with five goal demolition. Any Stuttgart fan will be happy to tell you their side has been well below par of late. They too had been sinking alarmingly towards the drop zone. It was a mark of the depths which Hertha have reached losing in such a manner.
Raphael Honigstein explained in his Guardian column what happened on Sunday after the previous day’s loss. “Close to 200 extremely unhappy supporters invaded the training ground and forced the players to listen to their grievances. The meeting/inquisition ended with the players promising to pull their socks up from now on.”
Pulling their socks up is an understatement. After 11 games, Hertha were 10th and looked in no real danger of relegation. They even managed to win away at the current leaders Borussia Dortmund, the first team in over a year to do so. However, they’ve since gone on a run of no win in 10 games. As they edge closer to the relegation zone, the Bundesliga’s only club from the capital still have time to turn things around – there are after all three teams worse off.
Rock bottom Freiburg were slightly unfortunate to go down 3-2 away at Wolfsburg despite some good attacking play whilst 17th placed Augsburg played out a goalless draw with Nuremberg. Kaiserslautern, one place behind Hertha, lost 2-0 to Bayern Munich. So they can take heart from the equally nervy form being shown by the teams below them.
However, this weekend they face the leaders Borussia Dortmund who saw off Leverkusen on Saturday thanks to a brilliant strike from Shinji Kagawa. The Champions will offer a stern test to the new coalition team in charge – Rene Tretschok and Ante Covic.
A coalition isn’t something Berliners will be unfamiliar with either. It’s worked for the German government and maybe it can solve what’s fast turned into a capital crisis for Hertha Berlin.
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Matchday 21 Results:
Wolfsburg 3-2 Freiburg
Bayern Munich 2-0 Kaiserslautern
Borussia Dortmund 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen
Mainz 1-1 Hannover
Stuttgart 5-0 Hertha Berlin
Werder Bremen 1-1 Hoffenheim
Gladbach 3-0 Schalke
Augsburg 0-0 Nuremberg
Cologne 0-1 Hamburg
|2||FC Bayern Munich||21||14||2||5||49:14||+35||44||CL*|
|4||FC Schalke 04||21||13||2||6||46:28||+18||41||CL* Qual.|
|5||SV Werder Bremen||21||9||6||6||34:35||-1||33||EL* Qual.|
|6||Bayer 04 Leverkusen||21||8||7||6||28:28||0||31||EL* Qual.|
|12||1. FC Köln||21||7||3||11||29:41||-12||24|
|13||1. FSV Mainz 05||21||5||8||8||29:35||-6||23|
|14||1. FC Nuremberg||21||6||4||11||19:31||-12||22|
|15||Hertha BSC Berlin||21||4||8||9||25:36||-11||20|
|16||1. FC Kaiserslautern||21||3||9||9||15:26||-11||18||Play-offs|
Table thanks to Bundesliga Official Website