Hertha Berlin has signed former FC Augsburg head coach Jos Luhukay to a two-year contract to coach the team. He is the fourth man to be walking the sidelines for Hertha in less than twelve months, following Markus Babbel, Michael Skibbe and Otto Rehagel. The Berliners lost their playoff promotion series to Fortuna Düsseldorf and will compete in 2. Bundesliga next season.
Hertha’s general manager Michael Preetz told reporters
“We are delighted that we have been able to take Jos Luhukay under contract for the next two years.”
Luhukay commented that
“I am looking forward to this extremely attractive challenge with Hertha Berlin.”
Several weeks ago, the idea of Luhukay taking over at Hertha Berlin seemed remote, as he safely guided FC Augsburg during a positive Ruckrunde run to a 14th place finish in the Bundesliga table, seven points ahead of the relegation playoff berth that Hertha found themselves in. Luhukay replaces the legendary Rehagel, 73, whose role in coming to coach The Old Lady was only temporary in nature as he did give them a chance to remain in the Bundesliga until Fortuna Dusseldorf took the promotion series.
Luhukay, 48, is a Dutchman born in Venlo. He had a ten-year playing career as a midfielder in Germany and the Netherlands that included two Bundesliga appearances with KFC Uerdingen during the 1995-1996 season. His managerial CV includes his first coaching assignment at SV Straelen, a stint with Eurdingen,several seasons as an assistant and caretaker coach at FC Koln, along with coaching Paderborn 07 and Borussia Monchengladbach before he arrived in Augsburg in March, 2009.
Luhukay led FC Augsburg to a 3rd place finish in 2009/2010 with a 17-11-6 record in 2. Bundesliga and managed their promotion the following season, earning second place (ironically behind league leaders Hertha) with a 19-8-7 mark. Club officials at Augsburg were cautious following their promotion, keeping expectations to a minimum in their first-ever Bundesliga campaign after losing the relegation playoff the season before. Augsburg managed to get positive results in nine of its 17 Hinrunde matches, but most were draws and the team finished the first half of the season in the relegation zone with 15 points, scoring only 15 goals with a squad quite lacking in previous first division experience.
Despite what looked like a one year Bundesliga run, the support of Augsburg management, the increased confidence of the squad after weathering a half season of first division football and winter break acquisitions such as Ja-Cheol Koo from Wolfsburg saw the club earn 23 points in the second half under Luhukay. The patience displayed by the club paid off in another first division season for the Bavarian club.
And so ends the happy story. Football, however, is seldom without controversy and Luhukay’s seemingly secure position in Augsburg eroded rapidly. The club’s hesitance regarding the rehiring of two of Luhukay’s assistants along with the retirement of Augsburg manager Andreas Rettig was enough to create a void between Luhukay and club Chairman Walther Seinsch, ending with Luhukay leaving the club.
Meanwhile Luhukay officially takes over the coaching duties at Hertha Berlin on July 1. Having brought both Augsburg and Mönchengladbach up from 2. Bundesliga, expectations in Berlin will be high for Luhukay to repeat his magic. But the recent antics of Preetz, which include the “he said” back and forth accusations with Babbel and the less than successful hiring of Skibbe, along with coaching in the nation’s capital, may put Luhukay under the type of pressure he didn’t encounter at Augsburg until the end of his reign. Hertha bounced back immediately from their last demotion, and fans of the Old Lady will be expecting the same following the 2012/2013 campaign.
Weinzerl to Lead FC Augsburg
Thirty-seven year old Markus Weinzierl, who just lead SV Jahn Regensburg to promotion last week, was appointed to replace Luhukay at Augsburg on May 17. The official announcement of his hiring will occur on Tuesday May 20.
A native of Straubing along the Danube River in Lower Bavaria, Weinzierl played as a midfielder for about a decade. where he saw his most action with the Bayern Munich reserves, although he also had 40 games with Stuttgarter Kickers. Weinzierl joined Jahn Regensburg as a player in 2002, playing in 17 matches with the club before becoming an assistant in 2007, taking over the head coaching reins in 2008. His overall record as head coach with the 3.Liga club includes 49 wins, 48 draws and 43 losses in 140 matches. Their promotion playoff series win over Karlsruher SC returned the team to 2. Bundesliga for the first time since 2003/2004 season.
The hiring by Augsburg of the relatively untested and young Weinzierl continues a Bundesliga trend of hiring coaches without experience in first division German football. Weinzierl will have the advantage of having an Augsburg squad now seasoned with Bundesliga experience compared to the squad Luhukay led from 2. Bundesliga last season. The new Augsburg coach, however, may not have the initial confidence of the players that Luhukay had earned in heading the club for two seasons prior to their first Bundesliga campaign.
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