Not only Hertha went to the dogs; so is the new coach Pal Dardai. The Hertha in that figurative sense, which since the times of the Brothers Grimm has said that one comes to the dogs when one “partly comes into contemptible or bad external circumstances, partly with the health down”. Dardai, 47, because he actually got a dog. A Maltipoo, as he specified. The dog made him “a completely different person,” said Dardai; he therefore has nothing in common with that Dardai from the rescue operations of 2015 and 2021.
Alone, the dog must now suffer. For Hertha, for staying in the class. “I don’t have time for him now. Now I’m in work mode,” Dardai said. With the wife’s blessing, by the way. “Now Germany can laugh: I’m not wearing my pants at home!” assured Dardai when asked how his wife reacted when he made the decision to return. Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that! “Monika made the decision!” said Dardai.
Whatever the case, Dardai finds enough work. In his previous missions, things looked grim and bad, but it was never as bad as this one. “The relegation (against the third in the second division) might be good in our situation,” said Dardai. He will certainly not reap any opposition in the West End. Hertha has been bottom of the table in the Bundesliga with just 22 points since the weekend and is two points behind the relegation place and five points behind non-relegation place 15. VfL Bochum is there after a 1-1 draw at Hertha’s city rivals Union Berlin.
He will not promise anything, said Dardai. How could he? On Saturday, Hertha welcomes the stumbling SV Werder. Seven days later, the first away game in the third Regnum Dardais leads to FC Bayern. Hertha last won there in 1977. Despite all the realism (“This time we not only need hard work, but also a little bit of luck”) Dardai wanted to give the stumbling team energy, positivity and looseness above all. First official act on Monday: football tennis. In the coming days he should teach the alpha male Kevin-Prince Boateng that, unlike in the past few weeks, he is no longer in demand. He doesn’t need one, but many leaders. “Otherwise we can pack up.”
“I want to go back to youth players finding the men’s team sexy,” says Dardai
The fact that Dardai was chosen has a lot to do with the fact that he not only knows the club inside out, but also “knows every blade of grass”, as sporting director Benny Weber explained. Dardai only restricted that insofar as during his year and a half absence in the cabin wing “a chill oasis” was created, apparently really comfortable: “It was more puritanical for me”. Dardai was brought in mainly because “no one stands for the Berlin way” like the record player and parade firefighter. “Berliner Weg” is a catchphrase that has been coined in recent months – parallel to the entry of the private equity company “777 Partners” from Miami, USA. And it should represent a return to one’s own powers.
Oddly enough, Dardai also stands for this in other respects. He reported on Monday that he wanted to persuade Hertha to allow him to return to the youth academy in the summer – it is currently managed by former Bundesliga professional Pablo Thiam, who in turn was hired by former manager Fredi Bobic. And Bobic kicked Dardai out in November 2021. He has dedicated half his life to promoting young talent at Hertha, said Dardai, and sounded like he would like to do it again. Recently, too many talents have joined other clubs, and he wants to stop the bleeding.
“I want to get back to youth players finding the men’s team sexy,” he said. Only: If he should somehow miraculously keep Hertha in the first division, there should be debates as to whether he should continue as a coach. How he would then behave, he left open: “In football, the next pass always counts, nobody can say what comes after that,” he said, which sounded a bit like marking his territory. In one respect, however, he made a commitment: “If the A team is relegated, then that’s that.”