The question was far from being formulated when Sandro Schwarz blurted out the answer. “Great game. Great game! Guys, great game!” exclaimed the new Hertha BSC coach as he sat in the Bundesliga club’s press room at the official start of the season on Monday. Schwarz had been asked about the first day of the game, and since Friday it has been clear that Hertha will visit their neighbors 1. FC Union Berlin on August 6th. “Full house immediately, emotional derby… We want to be ready for that,” said Schwarz, 43. “And we’ll work intensively for five and a half weeks.” With presumably plenty of staff turnover.
Three years after the investor Lars Windhorst got involved – the financial entrepreneur has pumped a whopping 374 million euros into the Bundesliga in the past three years – Hertha BSC, like last year, has to earn more than it spends and reduce personnel costs, at least that’s what manager Fredi says Bobic. Goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow has already been loaned to Schalke 04 (and has a successor in Oliver Christensen, who exuded sufficient security in the relegation against Hamburger SV); other players who were once committed for a lot of money and last loaned out should also go if possible.
Whether that also applies to defender Jordan Torunarigha, who recently shone in Belgium at KAA Gent, is an open question; Krzysztof Piatek (most recently Fiorentina), Dodi Lukébakio (VfL Wolfsburg), Omar Alderete (FC Valencia) and Eduard Löwen (VfL Bochum), but possibly also the big earners Lucas Tousart and Santiago Ascacíbar, should always be thrown onto the market. Both had formed a stable defensive midfield in the final phase of the past season.
Midfielder Ascacíbar has submitted his transfer request
Ascacíbar submitted a change request months ago, revealed Bobic; the Argentine himself made it public in a TV interview at home a few days ago that he would like to leave the German capital again. Bobic credits him with the fact that he worked his way up to the end of the agonizing relegation battle for the Berliners; Hertha would not torpedo a change, especially not if the player finds a club that brings money.
Another player who has played an important role in recent weeks – and even helped dictate the line-up for the Berlin team in the relegation game in Hamburg – will remain: veteran Kevin Prince Boateng. Trainer Schwarz said he traveled to Berlin last week to talk to the 35-year-old. “It was open, clear and honest from both sides. It’s a good basis to continue working together,” said Schwarz.
This indicates that the coach relies on Boateng above all to restore inner unity in the club. When Schwarz was asked under what conditions he would speak of satisfaction when he looks back on the season that ended in summer 2023, he explained: “When our viewers and fans see that this is a Hertha team.”
That hasn’t always been the case in the past – although the team has often been just the footballing reflection of a troubled club that has been internally torn for some time. Schwarz is the seventh coach since Windhorst joined, and last year alone Hertha lost three coaches (Pal Dardai, Tayfun Korkut and Felix Magath). Manager Michael Preetz was kicked out a good year and a half ago, President Werner Gegenbauer resigned in May, and numerous members of the Executive Committee were figuratively dismissed at the last general meeting. Even now there is no trace of peace. The election campaign for the successor is currently in full swing, with the election taking place on Sunday.
The presidential candidate Frank Steffel has received a lot of encouragement from the sports scene
There are half a dozen candidates – although a duel seems to emerge. A duel between the entrepreneur Kay Bernstein, 41, who as a former Hertha “Ultrà” hopes for many sympathizers from the fan curve and tries to conduct a content-based election campaign, and the former CDU politician Frank Steffel, a Berlin factotum. the daily newspaper recalled these days how Steffel, 56, wanted to generate money for Hertha a few years ago – among other things – by sending text messages. On the other hand, as the current president of the first division handball team Füchse Berlin, he has received a lot of encouragement from the sports scene.
Steffel’s sympathizers include Foxes manager Bob Hanning, who recalled that Steffel had made the club great again during his 17-year tenure. Hertha’s ex-coach Pal Dardai, the club’s record player, also spoke up in a selfie video and openly promoted Steffel. The current manager Bobic kept a low profile, he hadn’t commented on Twitter yet, he said with a smile.
His predecessor Michael Preetz had communicated on said social network in a somewhat cryptic form reminiscent of Donald Trump. “Despite the negative press covfefe,” the former US President once tweeted; Michael Preetz now tweeted: “Add. I k kkmm mom.” Who Preetz could have spoken out for or whether he simply fell asleep on a keyboard remained a mystery on Monday.