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Hertha Berlin hires Magath in bid to avoid relegation

March 13, 2022 GMT
FILE Fulham's manager Felix Magath in the dugout ahead of the English Premier League soccer match between Fulham and Hull City at Craven Cottage stadium in London, Saturday, April 26, 2014. Hertha Berlin has turned to Felix Magath after firing Tayfun Korkut as coach in a desperate attempt to stave off a humiliating Bundesliga relegation for the ambitious club. Hertha announced the Magath’s signing late Sunday, March 13, 2022, saying the 68-year-old former coach of Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg, Schalke, Eintracht Frankfurt, Werder Bremen and Fulham among others had agreed to take charge of the team until the end of the season.  (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)
FILE Fulham's manager Felix Magath in the dugout ahead of the English Premier League soccer match between Fulham and Hull City at Craven Cottage stadium in London, Saturday, April 26, 2014. Hertha Berlin has turned to Felix Magath after firing Tayfun Korkut as coach in a desperate attempt to stave off a humiliating Bundesliga relegation for the ambitious club. Hertha announced the Magath’s signing late Sunday, March 13, 2022, saying the 68-year-old former coach of Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg, Schalke, Eintracht Frankfurt, Werder Bremen and Fulham among others had agreed to take charge of the team until the end of the season.  (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)
FILE Fulham's manager Felix Magath in the dugout ahead of the English Premier League soccer match between Fulham and Hull City at Craven Cottage stadium in London, Saturday, April 26, 2014. Hertha Berlin has turned to Felix Magath after firing Tayfun Korkut as coach in a desperate attempt to stave off a humiliating Bundesliga relegation for the ambitious club. Hertha announced the Magath’s signing late Sunday, March 13, 2022, saying the 68-year-old former coach of Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg, Schalke, Eintracht Frankfurt, Werder Bremen and Fulham among others had agreed to take charge of the team until the end of the season.  (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)
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FILE Fulham's manager Felix Magath in the dugout ahead of the English Premier League soccer match between Fulham and Hull City at Craven Cottage stadium in London, Saturday, April 26, 2014. Hertha Berlin has turned to Felix Magath after firing Tayfun Korkut as coach in a desperate attempt to stave off a humiliating Bundesliga relegation for the ambitious club. Hertha announced the Magath’s signing late Sunday, March 13, 2022, saying the 68-year-old former coach of Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg, Schalke, Eintracht Frankfurt, Werder Bremen and Fulham among others had agreed to take charge of the team until the end of the season. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)
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FILE Fulham's manager Felix Magath in the dugout ahead of the English Premier League soccer match between Fulham and Hull City at Craven Cottage stadium in London, Saturday, April 26, 2014. Hertha Berlin has turned to Felix Magath after firing Tayfun Korkut as coach in a desperate attempt to stave off a humiliating Bundesliga relegation for the ambitious club. Hertha announced the Magath’s signing late Sunday, March 13, 2022, saying the 68-year-old former coach of Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg, Schalke, Eintracht Frankfurt, Werder Bremen and Fulham among others had agreed to take charge of the team until the end of the season. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

BERLIN (AP) — Hertha Berlin turned to Felix Magath after firing Tayfun Korkut as coach in a desperate attempt to stave off a humiliating Bundesliga relegation for the ambitious club.

Hertha announced Magath’s hiring late Sunday, saying the 68-year-old former coach of Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg, Schalke, Eintracht Frankfurt, Werder Bremen and Fulham had agreed to take charge of the team until the end of the season.

“Felix Magath’s CV speaks for itself,” Hertha general manager Fredi Bobic said. “In him we have found someone who has proven many times over with his immense experience as a coach in any sporting situation, his manner and charisma, that he can make the right adjustments to lead us out of our challenging sporting situation.”

Magath, whose former clubs also include Stuttgart, Nuremberg and Hamburger SV, has a reputation for grueling training regimes. He led Wolfsburg to a sensational Bundesliga title in 2009, while he coached Bayern to league and cup doubles in 2005 and 2006. He led Bremen and Schalke to German Cup finals in 1999 and 2011, respectively, though was fired from each club before the final was played in Berlin’s Olympiastadion.

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“I had very clear and open talks with Fredi Bobic,” said Magath, who last coached Chinese club Shandong Taishan between 2016-17. “We are all aware of the current sporting situation and I am happy to use all my experience to help Hertha stay up.”

Hertha announced Korkut’s dismissal earlier Sunday and said assistant coach Ilija Aračić was also leaving “with immediate effect.”

Korkut had been given every chance to turn around Hertha’s fortunes after he replaced club favorite Pál Dárdai last November, but Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Borussia Mönchengladbach was the team’s fifth consecutive defeat and it stretched its winless run in the league to nine games.

It also left Hertha second last in the division, in a direct relegation spot, with eight rounds remaining.

Hertha hasn’t won a competitive game in 2022. It was also knocked out of the German Cup by city rival Union Berlin in January.

Korkut, a former Turkey international, was not solely to blame for Hertha’s problems, which may explain how he remained coach despite the long run of bad results. But Hertha again felt the need for a fresh start if it is to somehow claw its way out of danger.

“We are currently in a relegation place,” Bobic said. “There are still eight games left to get the necessary points for staying up. We will do everything we can to achieve this, and with this decision we want to help everyone involved to be even more focused on the situation and we are counting on the positive effects of a fresh start.”

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Magath is the team’s seventh coach since investor Lars Windhorst began backing the club in June 2019. Windhorst has not seen a return on his investment of 374 million euros in Hertha and has publicly expressed disappointment while criticizing club leadership for its failures.

Windhorst dreamed of turning Hertha into one of Europe’s best teams, but instead has seen the club lurch from one crisis, scandal or low point to another. Hertha has fought against relegation in each of the three seasons since Windhorst got involved through his Tennor investments group.

Bobic said recently that Windhorst’s money is “gone,” spent mostly on offsetting losses, including those caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week was another tumultuous one at the club, with sporting director Arne Friedrich departing and a power struggle breaking out between Windhorst and the Hertha management. Friedrich announced in February his intention to leave at the end of the season, but said Monday he felt for several months that he wasn’t able “to do justice to my duties as sporting director.”

Tennor spokesman Andreas Fritzenkötter said Wednesday that changes are needed at the club’s next general meeting in May. He also said a documentary about the club was stopped after a “management member described Mr. Windhorst as unsympathetic, and the group made fun of Windhorst.”

Meanwhile, the team is floundering, too. Hertha is the worst side in the Bundesliga since the second half of the season began.

Hertha next plays Hoffenheim at home on Saturday. Hoffenheim held Bayern Munich 1-1 on Saturday and is fighting for Champions League qualification. Hertha then visits third-place Bayer Leverkusen, before what is sure to be a highly charged city derby against Union Berlin.

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Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP