Chaos Days in the West End
Magath chops wood, Hertha’s problems persist
By Stephan Uersfeld, Berlin
Hertha BSC continues to play in the Bundesliga. This is probably the best news for the club from Berlin’s Westend for a long time. But there is some time to enjoy the success. The 2-0 victory in Hamburger SV is just the start signal for a complete upheaval. Hertha faces drastic weeks.
That was the end of Felix Magath. After just over two months as a coach at Hertha BSC, the 68-year-old just wanted to “go home and chop firewood”. The man who won a spectacular championship with VfL Wolfsburg in 2009 spoke of the “most difficult task” of his career. “My job was to stay up – it happened. So everything is fine,” he said and then disappeared back to his new job. What is happening in Berlin now no longer interests him. He will follow the news. Wild times begin for the rest of the staff.
“We need to bring calm to the club,” appealed Kevin-Prince Boateng, who had sought the role of a club icon with his 90 minutes in Hamburg and his subsequent interviews, following the successful relegation. But that’s one thing with Hertha. Right now they are without a coach, probably without a president and with only one CEO, Fredi Bobic, who will stay in Berlin for the long term, after Carsten Schmidt had already resigned last year for personal reasons.
Bobic has also been criticized. With several new employees, he landed in Berlin’s Westend in the summer of 2021 and not only made friends in the office. His transfers, which he made with Dirk Dufner, who he had with him, flopped almost all of them and was one of the reasons for the relegation battle that Hertha really got into with Bobic’s installed Tayfun Korkut, and then through Felix Magath and his Scottish Assistant Mark Fotheringham could almost be designed successfully as a result. The squad is now, like the rest of the club, under scrutiny.
Confusion about President Gegenbauer
No record is considered safe after these three years after the summer of 2019 when the money came. From the chairman to the management. CFO Ingo Schiller, who is leaving the club after more than 20 years, starts, as “Tagesspiegel” reported shortly after the final whistle in Hamburg’s Volksparkstadion and the club confirmed the morning after the success of the relegation. He leaves the club on October 31, 2022.
Days before the decisive game, it was announced in Berlin that President Werner Gegenbauer wanted to anticipate a proposal to be voted out at the General Assembly. With his resignation on Tuesday, which was first reported by several media outlets, the day-long talk in the capital was confirmed. Although the club rejected the reports a little later, it is about as likely to stay in office as a Hertha Championship next season. “He is our president at the moment,” CEO Fredi Bobic commented early in the afternoon on the confusion surrounding the withdrawal. A few hours later, Hertha announced her resignation.
The departure of the 71-year-old, who has led the club since 2008, may not be calmer – in contrast to his public silence in recent months. He could go public one last time and comment on the conflict with investor Lars Windhorst. Its 375 million euros, transferred in several installments from the summer of 2019, had turned a gray mouse into a metropolitan club. Not just for sporting reasons, but because a scary game was being staged. While the team’s dissolution was glaring, the club still grabbed the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The money had melted into the hands of the club. There was nothing left.
Several coach changes, including the chaos surrounding Jürgen Klinsmann, were the starting point for a soap opera that has lasted to this day, which rarely knew winners and provided an insight into increasingly darker abysses almost every week.
What is Windhorst planning?
Gegenbauer and Windhorst have been so fatefully intertwined over the last three years. While an open power struggle broke out between them, most just shook their heads. Most recently, a giant “Windhorst and Gegenbauer out” banner hung over the east curve of Berlin’s Olympic Stadium. The fans had had enough. Enough of the power struggle for their club, which only brought them malice and ridicule in the rest of the republic and in Berlin the loss of dominance to their Köpenick rival Union Berlin.
They had had enough of the silencer Gegenbauer’s silence and the disturbing fire from the investor, who reported loudly via “Bild” after the victory against Hoffenheim in the first match under Felix Magath and immediately destroyed the hopes that arose for more relaxed weeks. until the end of the season.
The upcoming general meeting on Sunday is going to be about chaos. The extent to which Windhorst will play a role in this is still unclear. It is considered certain that the investor will make a public statement there. However, it can not yet be said with absolute certainty whether he will also send a presidential candidate in the run-up. However, this is not out of the question.
So far, few candidates have publicly thrown their hats in the ring for the Gegenbauer successor. Kay Bernstein, a former ultra and current entrepreneur, has already put herself in position. Other names such as the board Jörn Klein and vice chairman Thorsten Manske float around in the club environment. According to Windhorst, he has no interest in the post and hardly any realistic chance.
The 41-year-old Bernstein, on the other hand, is well connected in the Hertha fan scene and could at least get the ball rolling for an agreement between the divided clubs. The ex-ultra, who lives with his company in an industrial district in Neukölln, wants to bring the club from the western end back to the center of the city and ensure a reorientation of the club with transparency.
There is no exact program yet. This should be worked out in large groups in the weeks leading up to the election. It’s going to be about the stadium that Hertha has wanted for so long, it’s going to be about closing the big construction sites, developing the sporting competence and somehow also about how Hertha could break out of the eternal downward spiral.
The relegation that was just prevented makes the way for a fresh start in Berlin’s Westend perhaps a little less difficult, but only the club’s last crash, which has been in free fall since the summer of 2019, has so far been prevented. Now the arduous work begins. It will be a long time before the last three years of yawning wounds heal, so much is certain. No one in Berlin sounds really optimistic at the moment.