The countdown was on and meaningful bass thumped across the Hertha BSC training ground as Felix Magath began his debriefing. It was just before ten on Sunday morning. The sound came from the nearby Olympic Square, where at ten sharp the S25 BerlinGermany’s oldest city run, started.
The acoustic accompaniment also fitted perfectly with the dramatic situation at Hertha BSC, Berlin’s oldest Bundesliga club. The clock is ticking, the countdown is on.
Head coach Magath had the team gathered around him, as he always does the day after a game. Only this time he wasn’t wearing his usual black tracksuit, but was in civilian clothes, with gray chinos and a white polo shirt. But the leisure look was deceptive. Felix Magath will not be short of work in the next few days, after his team had booked the extra weekend in the Bundesliga the day before after losing 2-1 at Borussia Dortmund.
Instead of vacation, Hertha has two more games against Hamburger SV, third in the second division. And so the players were back on the training ground on Sunday morning. Magath spoke to the staff for seven minutes at the beginning of the session. To underline the meaning of his words, he used an almost expressionistic gesture. Magath’s arms whirled through the air, up, down, forward and sideways. When all was said, he clapped his hands once and walked away.
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Magath then disappeared immediately to set off for Darmstadt, where one of the potential relegation opponents would play in the afternoon. His assistant coach Mark Fotheringham, on the other hand, traveled to Rostock for the Hamburger SV game. Hertha wanted to be prepared for all eventualities. But Magath hadn’t just kept an eye on the second division in the past few weeks and in view of the impending relegation. He reported that he had already watched many games beforehand. On a Saturday at half past one he rarely has other appointments. “As far as the second division is concerned, I feel very confident.”
Many Hertha BSC fans are not quite sure whether this also applies to his team. The defeat in Dortmund, but above all the dramaturgy in the final minutes of the 2021/22 season, should have confirmed her view that you always have to expect the worst at Hertha BSC.
“It was like a script for the entire season,” said Hertha’s sporting director Fredi Bobic about the escalation of things shortly before the end: First Borussia Dortmund made it 2-1, then – in injury time – VfB Stuttgart also scored in the parallel game to win against 1. FC Köln and jumped past the Berliners in the table to rank 15.
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