What now Doctors? – HSV, a patient unstable

… And the right treatment option seems to be out of sight.

Anybody who has seen one of the roughly three million medical TV shows which litter the airwaves will inevitably have come across a story line where a patient has some sort of condition which brings him close to the point of death. Maybe the patient has to crash a couple of times during the course of the show (for dramatic effect), while some sort of relative tells one of the medical staff about the patient’s volunteer work rescuing street dogs at night or helping drug addicts to quit heroin at day – in between raising four children and making a living as a freelance kite-designer.

HSV have been close to a flatlining heart monitor on a few occasions if the Hamburg media is to be believed. The club has failed to reach the heights it aspires to since the 80s, and no treatment for has worked so far. The Red Shorts haven’t qualified for a European competition in their last four seasons (their last participation in the Champions League came 7 years ago) and the team has been trained by 5 different coaches since 2008: Jol, Labbadia, Veh, Oenning and Fink.

No magic pill

Other fixes from the recent past include getting Frank Arnesen to the club and asking the billionaire Klaus-Michael Kühne for a loan to pay for Raffael van der Vaart’s massive transfer fee (13m €). The Danish sporting director had to leave after his second season at the club and the Dutch superstar has made more headlines for his new-found love with a former teammate’s ex than for his performances on the pitch.

Many of the player transfers made during the Arnesen reign haven’t had the desired effect either. New sporting director Oliver Kreuzer is currently trying to pick up the pieces by getting rid of some of the players Arnesen has brought in to free up money for much-needed signings. Pierre-Michel Lasogga has been brought in on a loan deal to fix Fink’s woes up top, but players like Michael Mancienne, Robert Tesche, Gojko Kacar and Slobodan Rajkovic have to be shipped out before the club can start to spend any sort of money elsewhere on the transfer market (if all four were to be sold Hamburg would save 9 million Euros according to Kreuzer).

Kreuzer and head coach Thorsten Fink have many problems they need to address straight away. First, Hamburg’s defence has been leakier than a 90-year-old nursing home patient. Second, HSV’s attack has mostly been uninspired and Fink needs to work Pierre-Michel Lasogga into his line-up.

The team’s uninspired performance against Hoffenheim and their somewhat unfortunate defeat against Hertha Berlin have left them with only 1 point from the first three matches of the season. It doesn’t really come as a surprise that this hasn’t met the high standards of the HSV faithful and the vicious Hamburg media.

Invasive treatment

The drama over HSV’s instability shouldn’t come as a surprise given the club’s pedigree and its prior achievements in Europe and in the Bundesliga. However, there are certain elements at the club which make finding the right cure for HSV’s ailments difficult.

One of the biggest obstacles is actually the board, which consists of a staggering total of 12 members. Many of these board-members seem to have their own agenda, thinking that they know what is best for the club. Furthermore, many of its members have produced media scandals of their own by their own conduct. For example, Hans-Ulrich Klüver almost ended up having a fist fight with a security guard who asked him for ID.

Club-legend Manfred Kaltz was merciless in his description of the board on the TV-show Anstoss (a show produced by the Hannover paper Neue Presse):

HSV is an amateur club, too many mistakes have been made. The demands are high, but the basis is lacking. There is an actor on the board, a lawyer, everybody wants to get involved in the footballing side of matters, that’s simply intolerable!

Many fans of the club would agree with Kaltz’s dark assessment of the situation. Furthermore, some of the decisions taken in the past were too hasty and rushed, which hasn’t exactly helped the club to achieve greatness on the pitch.

Rushed decisions won’t happen this time around, according to HSV president Carl-Edgar Jarchow. Thorsten Fink has been given the full backing by the president, who stated that the club would continue to believe in their coach even if the team should lose against relegation candidates Eintracht Braunschweig on Saturday. However, there is little doubt that anything but a convincing win will bring temporary peace and quiet to the club.

And whilst the internal affairs at the club seem to be somewhat in order at the moment, there is already a new attack brewing from the outside. The aforementioned Klaus-Michael Kühne has vented his frustration in an interview with Sport Bild, stating that both Fink and Kreuzer were incompetent. Kühne’s solution was to install Felix Magath as the club’s president in the hopes of achieving a massive overhaul.

Bild reported later on that Kühne and Magath had met in Mallorca to discuss how the former HSV coach and player could reform the club. Magath himself stated only that he had no plans to start working again right now when being questioned by the press. The coming weeks are going to reveal where HSV are going to head.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 33-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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