Hertha Berlin upheaval continues, survival brings no respite
BERLIN (AP) — No coach, no president, no sporting director.
The turmoil of the last three years is showing no sign of abating at Hertha Berlin despite the team’s last-gasp survival in the Bundesliga this week.
Fans and players may have exhaled a sigh of relief after the nervy playoff win over second-division Hamburger SV on Monday but there has been little time to reflect or recover.
Hertha president Werner Gegenbauer quit the next day after 14 years in the position.
Also Tuesday, the club said financial chief Ingo Schiller will leave ahead of schedule in October.
On Wednesday, Gegenbauer lashed out against Lars Windhorst, who invested 374 million euros ($400 million) in Hertha, saying the financial backer had divided the club as it was fighting for league survival.
“He set the club on fire in the last few weeks, in the middle of the relegation battle. Windhorst is responsible for a division that has unsettled the club and all departments,” Gegenbauer told the local Tagesspiegel newspaper.
Gegenbauer had been due to remain president till 2024. Windhorst in March had called for Gegenbauer to go, accusing the 71-year-old of using tricks to stay in power.
Gegenbauer’s resignation is just the latest high-profile departure at Hertha since Windhorst first got involved in 2019.
Former Sky Germany CEO Carsten Schmidt lasted less than a year as managing director before leaving for personal reasons in October last year. Former general manager Michael Preetz was fired in January 2021, ending his 25-year association with the club. Sporting director Arne Friedrich was the latest to quit the club.
Felix Magath, who came in as coach to replace Tayfun Korkut and steer the team away from relegation, was never going to stay in the position once his job was finally completed on Monday.
The 68-year-old Magath said saving Hertha was the toughest job in his long career as coach, harder even than leading Wolfsburg to the Bundesliga title in 2009.
Magath told Kicker magazine on Friday that he happened to meet Korkut when he took over the team on March 13.
“Tayfun told me that it was difficult for him because he didn’t have any help at all. And I can only say, I also felt like I didn’t have any help during the nine weeks,” said Magath. “I felt almost no support anywhere.”
Magath said managing director Fredi Bobic, who joined in June 2021, is “one of the victims” at Hertha.
“He has taken on problems that are not just there since last week,” Magath said. “This club has been near relegation for three years in a row. That didn’t happen suddenly, it must be a structural problem.”
Former Mainz coach Sandro Schwarz is the favorite to take over from Magath and lead Hertha into what is sure to be another challenging season.
But Schwarz is currently coach of Dynamo Moscow and has had to answer questions about his decision to remain in Russia during its invasion of Ukraine. Compatriots Markus Gisdol and Daniel Farke both left Lokomotiv Moscow and FC Krasnodar, respectively.
“I’m not the kind of person who just looks at himself and says, ‘I’ll get on the next plane and leave here.’ It’s not about me. I feel responsible and will stay here at the club,” Schwarz said in early March.
Hertha’s announcement is expected after Dynamo’s Russian Cup final against city rival Spartak Moscow on Sunday.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Bobic referred to the constant upheaval during his one season in charge.
“Of course, it’s great for you, you can have your pages full and let rip,” Bobic told reporters. “You’ve been getting enough ammunition for it and I understand it, I’d do the same. But it doesn’t help a club.”
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