The Bundesliga coaching carousel, circling slowly during the Hinrunde, has been cranked up and is whirling full-tilt now, as Michael Skibbe was dismissed from his recent appointment as Hertha Berlin coach while his predecessor, Markus Babbel days earlier replaced Holger Stanislawski at Hoffenheim. Skibbe’s firing becomes the sixth coaching change during this Bundesliga campaign, following Michael Oenning, Ralf Rangnick, Marcus Sorg, Babbel and Stanislawski.
Hertha GM Michael Preetz admitted his error in hiring Skibbe, whose reign at the Berlin side only lasted 52 days. “We have not been able to play a successful second half of the season with him and it is my responsibility towards Hertha Berlin to put right this error in judgment. There are not many people who admit to their errors, but I have,” Preetz continued. “I am a fighter, and I was as a player too. I do not just walk away.”
Many Hertha Berlin fans were wishing that Preetz would do just that. Skibbe’s reign brought four league losses and an elimination by Borussia Monchengladbach Wednesday in the DFB Pokal — with Pierre-Michel Lasogga being the only squad member to find the back of the opposition’s net in over 480 minutes of competitive football. Saturday’s 5-0 humiliation by a VfB Stuttgart side that itself has looked a bit rudderless so far this Rückrunde was the final straw for Preetz.
Preetz, who stayed in his position despite the calls by Hertha fans for his resignation, announced that the club will take its time in picking a successor, with the fixture on MatchDay 22 at home against holders Borussia Dortmund probably to be led by an unnamed Hertha youth team coach. Holger Stanislawski could well be a consideration for Preetz, since he now is available.
Certainly the club has talent, and the ability to score, as the Berliners had a midtable Hinrunde finish with Lasogga, Raffael and Adrian Ramos combining for 15 goals in the season’s first half. Under Skibbe, the team sunk to 15th place, only two points above the playoff relegation spot as their goal differential slipped from -2 to -9 in four matches coached by Skibbe. Skibbe had a similar lack of success in last season’s Rückrunde with Eintracht Frankfurt, where a drought of goal-scoring after winter break ruined a promising first half of the season, leading to Skibbe’s dismissal and Frankfurt’s eventual demotion under his successor, Christoph Daum. Hertha, despite their downward spiral after a promising if inconsistent Hinrunde, can be seen as lucky, in that relegation battlers 1. FC Kaiserslautern, FC Augsburg and SC Freiburg have been unable to build any kind of momentum in 2012, saving the Old Lady from falling even farther in the table.
Meanwhile, Babbel received a two and a half year contract at Hoffenheim to replace Stanislawski, who was fired last Thursday. A win over in his debut Saturday against Werder Bremen was denied by a last minute goal by Marko Arnautovic, as Hoffenheim had to settle for a 1-1 draw. Babbel had led Hertha Berlin back to the top tier after a great season in 2. Bundesliga, but refused to commit to Hertha for the future and in a “he said-he said” public debate with Preetz, was dismissed.
After such a uninspired choice in hiring Babbel’s replacement, it will be interesting to see who Preetz tabs as Hertha’s next leader. Stanislawski retains his reputation as a quality coach despite his sacking at Hoffenheim.
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