Long-standing Hertha Berlin redesign favors humility over stardust | Bundesliga


The Berlin Olympiastadion Ostkurve fans celebrated with abandon on Friday night, looking “more euphoric than they had been for a long time,” as Jörn Lange of Berliner Morgenpost put it. Hertha had just avoided the embarrassment, coming back from a lost goal and – almost as important – avoiding becoming Greuther Fürth’s first casualty of the season.

For those looking at the bare numbers on paper, it might have been more difficult to raise substantial cheers, following a flattering but necessary victory in Bochum last week. Two wins against promoted teams isn’t major investor Lars Windhorst’s dream, but it’s a start – and a good one, given the courage Hertha had to show in both matches.

Pal Dardai, whose presence seemed anything but certain when he spoke immediately after the 5-0 spanking at Bayern Munich before the international break and dangled his potential resignation in front of the assembled media, even managed to put the moments into perspective. harum-scarum on Friday, especially when Branimir Hrgota put the visitors ahead in the second half from the penalty spot.

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“I told my coaching staff it would be better if we conceded a goal because we were just playing in a block,” said Dardai. “Thank goodness it’s gone after. How we used the ball [after] and how we showed the aggressiveness we needed… I got goosebumps and that brought the crowd with us. Home fans have risen in a cavernous stadium that struggles to generate (and maintain) heat in all but the most exceptional situations. That’s why this routine win on paper looked like something so much more.

Dardai showed his own commitment from the sideline, exploding his peak in the final minutes and needing to be calmed down by sporting director Arne Friedrich after being already a hit by referee Tobias Stieler. The rage (“I apologized to the officials afterwards,” Dardai told DAZN) subsided and settled into warm satisfaction as the coach spoke to the cameras, miles away. “the emotional explosion” at Bayern, as general manager of sport Fredi Bobic had framed.

There again, Dardai had seen something that did not even remotely resemble that sad surrender in Bavaria, “a victory of will and character.” Small steps to the outside world are like giant steps inside. “A team that helps each other is being created here,” continued the coach. “Last season we weren’t a team, just a lot of individuals.”

This culture is important to Dardai, a loyal club man, and especially Bobic, who has already shown that he is not afraid to use his new broom as he seeks to streamline Hertha and push them into their right direction. If Dardai went after Matheus Cunha (whom he publicly berated for his attitude before leaving for Atlético Madrid), Jhon Córdoba and Dodi Lukebakio (brutally wrapped up on loan at Wolfsburg on deadline day), then Bobic’s decisive gestures had already sounded loud and clear on the roofs of the capital that things had to change in depth.

Dardai’s loyalty has been clear in 297 Bundesliga games for Hertha as a player, then two spells of youth squad coach and now a second senior squad manager, and l Bobic’s involvement in the formation of a new Hertha is also evident. The serial monogamist of a sporting director announced he was leaving Eintracht Frankfurt in March before his appointment to Hertha, in a role above Friedrich, was confirmed in mid-April. Bobic was quick to make it clear that if the unthinkable happened and Hertha fell to second level, he was still full blast.

He may have been a big name at the board level, but he didn’t come with the vision of assembling a star-studded cast – quite the contrary. “We let go of the players who you think didn’t wear the shirt as they should,” he said last month. Meanwhile, Windhorst has made it clear that he is ready to invest even more in Hertha, having already invested the bulk of the € 400million in the club. “I will never give up,” he told Süddeutsche Zeitung in a recent interview, “whatever the cost”. He also clarified that his big ambitions for Hertha – mainly, reaching the Champions League – remain intact. “It should certainly not take five to ten years, but rather two to five years,” he insisted.

Still, Bobic’s plan appears to be to improve housekeeping, stability, and incremental earnings, and to quell what he sees as a culture of waste. Profits from the sale of Cunha, originally celebrated as the club’s talisman, and Cordoba in particular more than covered the costs spent on new players this summer. If the signings of Stevan Jovetić and the return of Kevin-Prince Boateng have made headlines – and their experience could and should be important – Bobic is hoping some of his other signings could grab the hearts of fans.

Jurgen Ekkelenkamp, ​​fresh from Ajax where he promised without making himself essential, had as big an impact against Fürth as one might have hoped. The Dutchman, a second-half substitute, netted an elegant equalizer barely 87 seconds after coming on, then provoked guest defender Maximilian Bauer by turning the eventual winner into his own net. “Jurgen has elements of street football going for him,” Dardai enthusiastically. “I don’t really know how he ended up with us with such skills. You cannot learn them.

Jurgen Ekkelenkamp scores Hertha’s first goal. Photograph: Boris Streubel / Bundesliga / Bundesliga Collection / Getty Images

The immediate suggestion, looking at Hertha’s future, was that sexy football doesn’t have to be the result of extravagant spending. Dardai, Bobic and Windhorst hope this holds true.

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Quick guide

Bundesliga results


Friday: Hertha Berlin 2-1 Greuther Fürth. Saturday: Arminia Bielefeld 0-0 Hoffenheim, Augsburg 1-0 Gladbach, Bayern Munich 7-0 Bochum, Cologne 1-1 Leipzig, Mainz 0-0 Freiburg. Sunday: Dortmund 4-2 Union Berlin, Stuttgart 1-3 Leverkusen, Wolfsburg 1-1 Eintracht Frankfurt.

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“I knew straight away that I was going to shoot. Leroy Sané’s return to his self-confidence continued with a superb free kick to open the floodgates against Bochum – which was always expected, as he told Sky – with Julian Nagelsmann claiming the winger had also “taken incredible steps” by participating in the Bayern meeting. pressing. The swarm was irresistible to the visitors, who ultimately succumbed to a 7-0 defeat. “It hurts,” said Thomas Reis of Bochum, “but we have to work on naivety.”

The avalanche of goals propelled Bayern to the top as Wolfsburg lost their 100% record, conceding a 1-1 draw at home against Eintracht Frankfurt in which they missed enough chances to win two games. , played by a very frustrated Wout Weghorst, who nevertheless saved a point with a proximity equalizer.

Erling Haaland did it again, scoring a stunning lob to put Borussia Dortmund to safety after their 3-0 lead against the Union was diminished by a more negligent defense. “We have a lot of games this season and we have to conserve energy,” said an exasperated Marco Rose.

Florian Wirtz also dazzled once again – the 18-year-old scored and assisted as his Leverkusen side won 3-1 in Stuttgart despite an hour of play with 10 men. Leipzig, meanwhile, missed out on a victory in Cologne with Timo Horn denying Dominik Szoboszlai a late winner in a game that had four goals ruled out by VAR.

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