When the news filtered through social media and various news networks on Tuesday afternoon that Hamburger SV had fired coach Christian Titz after just ten games of the 2.Bundesliga season, words like ‘shock’ and ‘surprise’ were missing from many of the headlines. Why? Because nothing the HSV bosses do is a surprise anymore, and the soap opera that is Hamburg just keeps giving (to the surprise of no-one).
“Part of our responsibility is to analyse the sporting situation the team is in. We feel that the team isn’t developing enough and we also feel that there was a risk that we wouldn’t reach our goals this season,” Sporting Director Ralf Becker said in a statement after he and President Bernd Hoffmann had informed Titz about his sacking.
The ‘sporting situation’ Becker mentioned sees HSV currently sitting fifth in the 2.Bundesliga just two points behind leaders Köln. The Rothosen have won just one of their last five games (and witnessed three goalless draws amongst them), but are by no means struggling in mid-table or fighting to climb out of the relegation zone (as has been their modus operandi for the past few years).
Christian Titz was parachuted in on matchday 27 last season as HSV were in a huge struggle to avoid a first-ever relegation from the Bundesliga. After Markus Gisdol and Bernd Hollerbach had both been tried, tested and then fired, the former U-17 and Hamburg SV II coach was given the almost-impossible task of saving the Dino from extinction. He did manage to pick up 13 points in 8 games, but it wasn’t enough to stave off the dreaded drop. However, the signs were there that Titz had the support of the players and the necessary ability to achieve an instant return to the top flight.
Yes, players left the ship after it had sunk (Filip Kostic, Nikolai Müller, Walace, Luca Waldschmidt, Albin Ekdal, Christian Mathenia), but the squad was filled with enough quality to bounce straight back. The season got off to the worse possible start with an opening weekend 3-0 home loss to Holstein Kiel, but hey…welcome to the 2.Bundesliga!
So is this just an ill-judged knee-jerk reaction (as per usual)? Or is there any reason in the seemingly mad decision?
The instant reaction of many HSV fans and neutral observers was a case of temporary horror, soon followed by the quick realisation that this short-term thinking and panic reacting is the Hamburg way.
Thomas Doll was the last HSV trainer to oversee more than 100 games in all competitions within a single term (2004-2007) and since him there have been no less than sixteen different coaches at the helm.
How many of those sixteen trainers were sacked with their side just two points off the top of the table and more than capable of keeping pace with the leaders? Christian Titz certainly has grounds to complain about ‘wrongful dismissal’.
The 47-year-old deserves respect for the job he did taking over a shambolic team, bringing in much needed changes and giving the talented young players in the ranks their chance to shine.
Fiete Arp’s reaction on Instagram is just one example of the current squad being firmly behind Titz and in symbols rather than words the young striker showed his (and many others) bafflement at the decision to ditch the coach.
So Hamburger SV are a shambolically run club, who just hire and fire coaches with scant regard for long-term sustainability and deserve all the ills and failures that come their way.
There’s method in the madness
In many ways, I agree with the sentiments above, but to play devil’s advocate for a minute, let’s look at the flipside of the coin. Yes, we are only ten games in, but if the club’s leadership are not convinced by Christian Titz’s tactics and style and the coach is seemingly determined to plot his course, what are they to do? Support a coach, they don’t believe in anymore, or choose their own guy and die by their decision.
Choosing Hannes Wolf as the successor to Titz is a good choice and the former VfB Stuttgart trainer has at least shown that he has what it takes to lead a fallen club out of the second tier and back to the big time.
In an ideal world Hannes Wolf will lead Hamburg back to Bundesliga and Messers Becker and Hoffmann will see their decision to cut Titz loose as justified. However, looking into a crystal ball and taking past history into account, it wouldn’t seem too much of a stretch of the mind, to imagine the headlines this time next year announcing HSV have sacked Hannes Wolf after an unsatisfactory start to the 2019-20 Bundesliga season.
Be sure to tune into the next episode of North Germany’s favourite footballing soap opera…
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