Hertha Berlin’s latest saviour? Can Felix Magath save the
‘Old Lady’ from relegation?
Picture source: uefa.com

Former Bayern Munich and VfL Wolfsburg head coach and Bundesliga legend Felix Magath has been tasked with keeping the capital city side in the top tier of German football.

The stalwart of German football has just eight games remaining to implement his methodology onto the freefalling Berliners. Magath has seen Hertha BSC just drop into one of the automatic relegation spots after another loss at the weekend. Interim Head Coach Tayfun Korkut being the latest employee to get the chop, having lost his last five league games and was seemingly going nowhere but the second division.

  • A man of many achievements

Magath has been brought in until the end of the season and clearly has one mission of saving the club’s skin. The German manager holds a sparking resume in Bundesliga football as he famously led Wolfsburg to their only Bundesliga title in 2009 utilising ‘the magic triangle’ of Edin Džeko, Grafite and Zvjezdan Misimović. Magath also became the first manager in Bundesliga history to win two consecutive league and cup doubles with Bayern Munich. The 68-year-old has also coached the likes of VfB Stuttgart, Eintracht Frankfurt, FC Schalke 04 and Wolfsburg (for a second time). Also not forgetting spells with Hamburger SV, SV Werder Bremen and FC Nürnberg. So, on paper this seems like a good appointment by the Berlin club and by Director of Sport Fredi Bobic. So confident with his choice Bobic stated Magath’s CV spoke for itself, which in fairness it does.

  • Relegation specialist

What is most interesting or relevant for me, however, is the fact Magath has previous experience when it comes to saving clubs from relegation. He has managed the feat with Werder Bremen before taking them to a cup final then moving on to save Eintracht Frankfurt. The Eagles were second from bottom when Magath took charge and led them to the league’s third best record in the Rückrunde (the second half of the season). Stuttgart was next on his list to rescue taking over from a certain Ralf Rangnick. Similarly, to Frankfurt he took charge of the South German side when they were in second bottom and kept the club afloat. Further to that the next two seasons Stuttgart finished second and fourth under his management. During which time he created the iconic ‘young and wild’ nickname by introducing the likes of Kevin Kurányi and Timo Hildebrand from the youth team. Finally, Magath would aid Wolfsburg in their time of need this time avoiding relegation on the last day of the season. So, you can see the man’s credentials are flowing, so it seems a perfect appointment but do Hertha have the actual ability to follow Magath’s style?

  • Questions to answer

What is the long-term strategy for Hertha under Magath? Is there room for him upstairs after he has done his work on the pitch? Of course, the German is one for mixing the roles of Head Coach and Director of Football so will just having the Head Coach role grate on Magath if he cannot make big decisions regarding his squad? There also must be questions on whether the legendary Bundesliga coach has still got what it takes. His last coaching job was five years ago with Chinese Super League side Shandong Luneng, and his last Bundesliga gig ended in 2012, 10 years ago. In January 2020 Magath stated he was done with coaching and wanted to help the sport in a different way as he joined FLYERALARM Global Soccer working with Wurzburg Kickers, a German third division side. Let’s not forget that football is a quickly evolving beast, so will his methods of discipline and hard training work in this modern era of the professional game? That is a lot of questions that need answering for the authoritative figure and for the Berlin club with such lofty ambitions.

  • The challenge of his career

Can he achieve what Pal Dardai and Tayfun Korkut could not and get a tune out of this squad of players that must be incredibly low on confidence. The club in the short-term face three very tricky fixtures to start life under Magath, hosting Champions League chasing TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, going away to third placed Bayer Leverkusen then face a huge Berlin derby with Union Berlin the week after. Statistically things look bad at both ends of the pitch as well, Hertha have conceded 58 goals which is second worst in the league behind Greuther Fürth and generally look a mess. Also, the numbers don’t add well up front with the joint lowest attempts to hit the woodwork and the third lowest number of shots. Horribly highlighting how poor they have been in the two critical areas of the field. Adding to this Hertha have poor ball retention, having the third lowest in the league with 44% on average. All of this adds up to probably the challenge of Magath’s coaching career, but his legendary status will be ever solidified if the great Berlin escape can be delivered.