Arnesen’s last roll of the dice at HSV?

The HSV is in crisis mode already.

Hamburg’s dire start to the season has set off the alarm bells at the Imtech Arena. Seemingly nothing worked out for the Red Shorts in their first two matches, a 4-2 loss in the cup against Karlsruhe and a 1-0 loss at home against Nürnberg, this season. Last Satuday’s performance saw the team booed of the pitch by their own fans.

Both players and officials had to admit that the team’s performance of late had been unacceptable. Hamburg’s press and the Bild Zeitung went far in suggesting that sporting director Frank Arnesen might get fired in the near future.

Coach Thorsten Fink did his very best trying to preserve his positive outlook on the season when he spoke to the press on Monday night:

I believe in thinking positive. I’m leading with a good example in that regard, and I’m showing the team that we have a certain quality.

The former Bayern and Karlruhe player couldn’t deny the fact that Hamburg currently are in need of some new signings to bring some more class and width to their squad. The name Rafael van der Vaart has been linked to the HSV by numerous publications. Fink himself would welcome the signing of the Dutchman:

I believe something is being done in that regard.

Only a few meters away from Fink club chairman Carl-Eduard Jarchow denied that the club was close to signing van der Vaart:

I don’t know anything about that.

Only hours later Bild reported that Hamburg and van der Vaart had in principle agreed on a deal, only awaiting Tottenham chairman Dan Levy’s approval for the transfer to go ahead. The Dutchman himself asked Dan Levy to approve the transfer after Wednesday’s training session according to Bild. Whether or not Levy was persuaded by van der Vaart’s arguments remains to be seen.

Seeler vents his frustration

The state of affairs at Hamburg seems to be as chaotic as ever. Club legend Uwe Seeler, critical of the clubs since the poor start to the 2011/12 season under Michael Oenning, has been vocal in stating his thoughts on what’s wrong.  The former striker told the German radio station NDR on Tuesday:

I don’t see any sort of progress given the steps that were taken over a longer period of time. I have to know what type of players I need in my time. I simply have to shake my head at times. There are so many players here who aren’t good enough for the Bundesliga.

Seeler goes far in suggesting that Arnesen has to take the lion share of the blame for Hamburg’s poor performances in the recent past. The club legend might have a point, given that Mladen Petric, Pablo Guerrero, David Jarolim, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Ze Roberto, Piotr Trochowski and a number of other big names have left the club during Arnesen’s tenure.

The replacements the Dane has lined up so far have most of the time not provided the desired effect. Last season Fink’s team had to stave off relegation, this time around it looks like they might have to do the same again. Arnesen’s best signing, Gökhan Töre, left the club after only one season,  joining Rubin Kazan during the summer transfer window.

When the phrase Parade of horribles is mentioned these days, most people might actually think about Frank Arnesen’s signings and not the memo Donald Rumsfeld ordered before going into Iraq.

Fink puts his faith in Petr Jiracek and Milan Badelj

Uwe Seeler seems to think that club lacks three players in essential positions, a defender, a playmaker and a striker, despite the fact that the HSV’s new striker Artjom Rudnevs has a proven track record in the Polish Ekstraklasa, being the league’s top scorer last season.

Croatian playmaker Milan Badelj and Czech box to box midfielder Petr Jiracek joined the club on Wednesday. Fink and Arnesen told the press that they saw Badelj as the new playmaker in Hamburg’s system and Jiracek in a defensive role supporting the Croat. Both players will start in the Northern Derby against Werder Bremen on Saturday according to Fink.

Much depends on HSV’s performances over the next couple of weeks. If the team manages to get back on track, and the additions of Jiracek and Badelj were just what the doctor had ordered, much of the criticism of Arnesen’s transfer policy is likely going to recede. If not, Hamburg will once again provide the tumultuous insanity which the club has gotten known for over the last couple of decades.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 32-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.

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