After the frustration about the next and the next particularly bitter defeat, a storm of indignation broke out over Hertha BSC on Saturday. The shitstorm was triggered by a scene that ran across the television screens in the middle of the second half of the game at TSG Hoffenheim.
You could see Hertha’s striker Florian Niederlechner, who was freshly showered on the substitutes’ bench after being substituted at the break and looked at the screen of his smartphone with interest. The subtext of this attitude: Hertha’s players are no longer particularly interested in what’s happening on the pitch. They prefer to be distracted by other things.
The opposite is the case. The alleged culprit was defended by his colleague Kevin-Prince Boateng immediately after the final whistle and in front of the camera. Niederlechner only found out about the situation in the relegation battle and the effects of the current games on the Bundesliga table, reported Boateng.
Strictly speaking, this is also a serious offense; a violation of the iron principle of only looking at yourself and not at the others in the relegation battle. Sandro Schwarz, the coach of the Berlin Bundesliga club, has been preaching this for weeks.
But the way Hertha presented themselves in the 3-1 defeat against the former bottom of the table Hoffenheim, Niederlechner’s bashful look at the competition was all too human. At the moment, the Berliners have to rely primarily on the fact that the other teams in the table basement are just as stupid as they are. They shouldn’t rely on their own strength.
What strength? The game in Sinsheim reinforced the impression that Hertha had fooled themselves for far too long this season and are now horrified to face the bitter reality. The confidence that this season would end on a light note again, nourished by a number of respectable performances in their own stadium, was hit hard on Saturday.
Hoffenheim, previously 14 games without a win and apparently in free fall towards the second division, passed the Berliners in the table with the win. Only thanks to the better goal difference does Hertha maintain the relegation rank ahead of FC Schalke 04. The doubts are now greater than ever.
“We had really planned a lot, but we didn’t have the right grip, we didn’t have control, we weren’t really alert,” said Tolga Cigerci, who caused the first of two penalties for TSG with a hand ball in the middle of the first half. After the 0:1 Hertha collapsed. “It happened again,” Cigerci said.
Hertha lacks a spirit of resistance
Again the team was not able to react appropriately after the 0:1. Again she was completely unsettled by the first setback. And again she resigned herself to her fate in an apparently fatalistic way. The game at the bottom of the table was the ninth this season in which Hertha fell three goals behind.
“We let ourselves be impressed by the situations and didn’t react well. You can lose games, but definitely not like that,” said Sandro Schwarz the morning after the game. “It’s a waste of time to act like that.”
Hertha’s coach sounded sober. The team didn’t put anything on the pitch that you need in the relegation battle: energy, charisma. “That’s negligent,” said Schwarz, “especially in such an important game.”
They have accepted the relegation battle, we haven’t yet.
Kevin Prince Boatengmidfielder of Hertha BSC
When Hertha was losing after defeat at the beginning of the year and lurching towards the bottom of the table, Schwarz vehemently denied the accusation that the situation was underestimated: Everyone in the club was aware of the seriousness. After a game like the one in Hoffenheim you can’t be so sure anymore.
“They have accepted the relegation battle, we haven’t yet,” said Kevin-Prince Boateng. More declaration of bankruptcy is not really possible; not for a team that has been stuck in the bottom third of the table for months and should know that this season is all about staying in the league.
“We don’t have to be fundamental now,” said Schwarz, who has always defended the team; who resolutely opposed the notorious prophets of the end of the world and who, even if the results were disappointing, referred to the substantive progress in his team’s game.
But intensity, passion, conviction are also important content, especially in the relegation battle. And once again Hertha didn’t get all that on the pitch in Sinsheim.
On Sunday, Schwarz sent his players to run, including the reservists who usually train on the field the day after the game. Before that, he reported, he said a few bars to the team.
This time, Hertha’s coach made little effort to hide his frustration and disappointment. He is hoping for a similar attitude from his team in response to the underperformance against TSG Hoffenheim. “That must create anger,” said Schwarz. But the doubts remain.
Brayden White, a veteran sports writer at Global Happening, brings his wealth of knowledge and expertise to the sports section. With over a decade of experience, he is committed to delivering high-quality coverage of the latest games and events.