HSV: The Never Ending Story of Frustration Continues

HSV once again sack their coach, but what now?

The Red Shorts dire performance in Saturday’s 6-2 loss to table toppers Dortmund was the last straw for Hamburger SV Sporting Director Oliver Kreuzer and executive Carl-Edgar Jarchow, who dismissed Coach Thorsten Fink Tuesday. Fink’s sacking seemed increasingly likely over the last weeks, as the problems were mounting for the team that had only won once in five league matches and sported the second-worse goal differential of the 2013/2014 Bundesliga season. Rodolfo Cardozo and Otto Addo are currently leading the team’s training sessions whilst the club searches for a new head coach.

As always, there have been many potential candidates mentioned as possible solutions which HSV may(or may not) consider. Former Hoffenheim and Stuttgart coach Markus Babbel is being touted as one of the possible solutions, despite Kreuzer denying that a phone call between him and Markus Babbel has taken. Franco Foda, who spent a successful stint at Sturm Graz together with Kreuzer, has openly admitted that he would like to have a crack at coaching Hamburg.

Other candidates which have been mentioned by the press are Horst Hrubesch, Felix Magath, Lothar Matthäus and even former Werder coach Thomas Schaaf.  HSV-boss Carl-Edgar Jarchow told Hamburg paper MoPo today that HSV want to bring an experienced coach to the club. All the coaches mentioned above are certainly fitting the bill in that regard.

Investor and critic of the current regime at the club Klaus-Michael Kühne has already told MoPo that he very much doubts that the club is going to find a good solution in its search for a new coach. The everyday drama which seems to be the daily wick at Hamburg doesn’t seem to go away.

The recurring problem and the reasons for it

However, if one examines Hamburg’s more recent history one sees a worrying trend which couldn’t possibly be addressed by hiring a slightly more experienced coach than Fink.  Hamburger SV have had 10 coaches since 1997 and not won a single significant title since the team’s triumph in the DFB Pokal back in the 1986/87 seasons. Given the infrastructure in place and the size of the fan base this can only be construed as a massive disappointment.

Thorsten Fink arrived at the club almost two years ago, being considered one of the most interesting German coaches due to his success with FC Basel in the Champions League. But, why do good coaches time and time again seem to fail after they’ve joined Hamburg?

The transfer policy of the club has over the years been more driven by getting in players with big names, rather than players who could help and improve the team’s performance on the pitch. This has in turn also had an impact on the club’s finances.

Lurking behind the scene is HSV’s oversized and at times rather erratic board of directors which is known for its in-fighting and the its sometimes rash decision-making. The press in Hamburg seems to have direct access to the internal affairs of the club far too often as well. Tim Jürgens and Jens Kirschneck noted in an article in 11 Freunde half a year ago that the most commonly uttered phrase coming from board members was ”here’s the deal, but this stays between us”.  ny journalist worth his salt is, of course, going to follow that trail. It’s not a surprise that coaches find it hard to do their job under these conditions.

HSV Plus – A viable solution?

Former HSV boss Ernst-Otto Rieckhoff is among the growing group of people who do think that the club needs to change its structures to compete successfully in the future. Rieckhoff has started the initiative HSV Plus, which is proposing several changes. HSV Plus consists of many former players and officials, amongst there Holger Hieronymus and Thomas van Heesen.

The most vital part of the group’s plan are the following:

* The amateurs and the professional divisions of the club are separated. The professional football team and the youth academy are going to be turned into a public limited company.
* The shares of that company can be sold to investors, increasing the club’s cash flow and addressing the mountain of debt. However, the members of the club have to agree to any deal which sees a party gain more than 24.9% of the shares. The 50+1 rule is also going to be overheld by HSV in the future.
* The board of directors of that company is reduced to 6 members. Those who reveal inside matters to the media can be punished for their behaviour.

Here are all the details of the initiative’s thoughts.

Co-founder Ernst-Otto Rieckhoff told SID that the initiative is ”the club’s last chance”, whilst former president Wolfgang Klein thinks that the club won’t manage to compete in Europe for the next ten years if those changes aren’t implemented. However, current board member Wolfgang Ertl has criticised HSV Plus, stating that changes to the current structure weren’t necessary.

The new initiative’s suggestions need the support of the majority of its members when the club has its general meeting in January of 2014.

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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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