Hertha BSC continues to play in the Bundesliga. This is probably the best news for the club from Berlin's Westend in a long time. But there is little time to enjoy the success. The 2-0 win at Hamburger SV is just the starting signal for a complete upheaval. Hertha is facing drastic weeks.
It was over for Felix Magath. After a good two months as coach of Hertha BSC, the 68-year-old just wanted to "go home and chop wood". The man who won a spectacular championship with VfL Wolfsburg in 2009 spoke of the "most difficult task" of his career. "My task was to stay up - that 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'll follow it on the news. Wild times begin for the rest of the staff.
"We have to bring calm into the club," appealed Kevin-Prince Boateng, who had applied for the role of a club icon with his 90 minutes in Hamburg and his subsequent interviews, after the successful relegation. But that's a thing at Hertha. As of now, they are without a coach, probably without a president and with only one managing director, Fredi Bobic, who will remain in Berlin long-term, after Carsten Schmidt had already resigned last year for personal reasons.
Bobic has also come under criticism. With numerous new employees, he landed in Berlin's Westend in the summer of 2021 and not only made friends at the office. His transfers, which he made together with Dirk Dufner, who he brought with him, almost all flopped and were one of the reasons for the relegation battle, which Hertha really got into with Bobic's Tayfun Korkut and then Felix Magath and his Scottish assistant Mark Fotheringham could just about be designed so successfully in the result. The squad is now, like the rest of the club, under scrutiny.
No post is considered safe after these three years after the summer of 2019, when the money came. From the president to the management. CFO Ingo Schiller, who will leave the club after more than 20 years, will start, as the "Tagesspiegel" reported shortly after the final whistle in Hamburg's Volksparkstadion and the club confirmed the morning after the success in the relegation. He will leave the club on October 31, 2022.
Days before the decisive game, it was heard in Berlin that President Werner Gegenbauer wanted to forestall a motion to be voted out at the general meeting. With his resignation on Tuesday, which was only reported by several media, days of chatter in the capital were confirmed. Even if the club denied the reports a little later, remaining in office is about as likely as a Hertha championship in the coming season. "He is our president, currently," commented managing director Fredi Bobic on the confusion surrounding the withdrawal. At the presidium meeting on Wednesday everything should then dissolve.
The departure of the 71-year-old, who had led the club since 2008, may not be any quieter - 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 tranches from the summer of 2019, had turned a gray mouse into a big city club. Only not for sporting reasons, but because a frightening game was performed. While the team's disintegration was glaring, the club still grabbed the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The money had melted in the hands of the club. Nothing was left.
Multiple changes of coach, 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 which gave an insight into ever darker abysses almost every week.
Gegenbauer and Windhorst have been so fatefully intertwined over the past three years. While an open power struggle broke out between them, most just shook their heads. Most recently, a gigantic "Windhorst and Gegenbauer out" banner hung over the east curve in Berlin's Olympic Stadium. The fans had had enough. Enough of the power struggle for their club, which brought them only 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 silence of the string puller Gegenbauer and the disruptive fire from the investor, who reported loudly via "Bild" after the win against Hoffenheim in the first game under Felix Magath and immediately destroyed the hope that the weeks that arose before the end of the season would be more relaxed.
The upcoming general meeting on Sunday will be all about chaos. To what extent 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 cannot yet be said with absolute certainty whether he will also send a presidential candidate into the running. However, it is not excluded.
So far, only a 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 himself in position. Other names such as that of the supervisory board Jörn Klein and the vice-president Thorsten Manske waft 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 resides with his company in an industrial district of Neukölln, wants to bring the club from the west end back to the center of the city and ensure a realignment 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 will be about the stage that Hertha has been wanting for so long, it will be about closing the major construction sites, developing 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 new start in Berlin's Westend perhaps a little less difficult, but only the final crash of the club, which has been in free fall since summer 2019, has been prevented for the time being. Now the arduous work begins. It will be a long time before the gaping wounds of the last three years heal, that much is certain. Nobody in Berlin sounds really optimistic at the moment.