11, 15, 7, 6, 10, 11: These are not 6 out of 49, not the early lottery numbers from Wednesday, but the six places that Hertha BSC Berlin has occupied in the Bundesliga final table since the last promotion in 2013 , Nimble calculators quickly determine: On average, this results in 10th place.
No football fan can be seriously surprised. With occasional upward swings that resulted in unsuccessful Europa League appearances, the Berliners have been embodying bland Bundesliga mediocrity for quite some time. They would like to be a "Big City Club" in the capital, as Klinsmann formulated the claims when he started.
Whereby: Would you really like that?
Manager Michael Preetz was rather reluctant to speak in the turbulent weeks before the winter break before he remarked a few days ago: "My job may be to put the brakes on here and there a bit." One does not have to imagine that not everyone is rowing in the same direction. But with the ambitious investor Lars Windhorst it should be discussed "that the way to the goal will definitely take a little time."
Jürgen Klinsmann absorbs all attention
Former coach Pal Dardai has largely managed to keep Hertha out of the relegation zone in recent years. This season, Ante Covic, as the successor to solid Hungary, should take the next step in development, but failed after just a few months.
So appearance Klinsmann: The architect of the summer fairy tale is now absorbing all attention in Berlin, which he has always done – at the DFB, at Bavaria, with extremely different results. Only one thing is certain: Negligible reports from the capital, such as those from the coach license that is no longer valid, will be jazzed up nationwide with immediate effect.
As with his other stations, Klinsmann starts with big words that promise a lot: After short-term relegation, the Europa League will be the minimum goal next season, "and hopefully we will be able to continue playing one season later". Obviously, the new maker at Hertha doesn't want to lose time. The motto for the club – and for the 55-year-old himself: The main thing is that it doesn't matter anymore!
Because if you hear Klinsmann talk, you can't avoid the impression that in Berlin – just like Hertha – he personally hopes to step out of the mediocre football style, which with all due respect gnaws at him during his time as head of the US national team should have. This is how Klinsmann's reformer rhetoric comes this time with a very personal note: If he polished Hertha to a high gloss and made Berlin a Champions League metropolis, he would not only have shown it again to all critics of his American methods, he would also be back at the highest level of top international football – after all, the top class, Klinsmann says, is the benchmark by which all national coaches worldwide orientate themselves.
The flip side of the unconditional enthusiasm that the 55-year-old still exudes like few others in the industry is everyday work under a burning glass. As a reaction, superlatives naturally challenge superlatives. And so critics asked after the first game, why there was no coach's plan at all – only to praise Klinsmann shortly afterwards on the occasion of the victory against Leverkusen at the end of the first half of the season, exactly, for his clever plan.
Can Hertha BSC be the "Big City Club" for Berlin?
Some realize that the current Hertha team has about as much potential as the national team at that time, which Klinsmann took over from Rudi Völler in summer 2004. However, there is a big difference: At the DFB he had to get along with the players that were available to him. In Berlin, investor Windhorst is likely to fulfill many a request for reinforcement in the short and medium term – in this respect, the conditions are better.
Investments alone will not save the "Big City Club" project in Berlin from failing. Klinsmann and his helpers walk the fine line between the spirit of optimism and self-parody when, for example, the newly installed "Performance Manager" Arne Friedrich der Hertha decreed "megalomania" in all seriousness. The report of the specialist magazine "Kicker" from the training camp in Florida has been extremely snappy recently, and it does not take much imagination to imagine the media headwind, which should refresh if the failure continues.
No question: Jürgen Klinsmann at Hertha is already one of the great stories of this Bundesliga season. Seldom have the club and coach been able to benefit from each other so much, at least in theory. But both of them also take the similarly high risk of a disaster with this collaboration. Pressure with which Klinsmann is familiar. Hertha, according to the deliberate politics of the past few years, has been less so.