10 Points, one loss, one draw and three wins
Hertha going for the Pokal in Hamburg…. well St Pauli.
It’s actually been a good opening to the season for Hertha and the latest match against Frankfurt was possibly the finest example of how “The Bundesliga is boring” phrase is just a myth. It was probably the best game of the weekend, but yet again was overshadowed in the media by Bayern’s 1-0 last minute victory over struggling Hamburg.
Here’s my new little update blog, my opinion of the team and how they’re doing.
I’ve decided to call it “The nutshell”. So here’s Nutshell Number 1! Lets go!
The start of the season: Three winsWhilst an early exit from the Europa league left many Hertha fans rather pessimistic about the season ahead, the first three matches of the campaign actually may have boosted their confidence.
The win against Freiburg on matchday 1, after having conceded in the 93rd minute only to win the game in 95th thanks for the determination of Julian Schieber, was probably enough to lift the heads of the fans, many of who felt rather pessimistic about how the season would pan out. Optimism is something I’ve noticed, isn’t huge at Hertha, maybe because of the typical way we tend to put our foot in it and kick ourselves when we’re in a winning position, by almost always letting it slip through our fingers. It’s typical Hertha to throw it away, or fail when it really counts but it might change. Who knows?
It’s not me being pessimistic or cruel, it’s just what fans of the club are used to now. We all know we’re no Bayern Munchen, and we all know we’re not the best club in Germany, we all know supporters of more successful clubs probably point us and laugh when they see what jersey we are wearing. That’s been the case at least wen I’ve met German fans in the UK.
Faith is something all teams must have.
It did get better. For Schieber in particular. He, once again proved his worth against Ingolstadt away from home on Matchday 2. A game which Hertha dominated even if they struggled to find a way to break through until the second half.
The style of play was once again, attacking, not just defensive, something which frustrated fans during the first half of the first game against Freiburg, the whole way of passing back and not pressing forward. Something did eventually click, the second half of that game was much much better and it was carried over into the Ingolstadt game.
Although I have to admit it seems that Ingolstadt may have a long season ahead of them, as they’ve struggled to make progress much this season and played poorly in their opening games.
But of course there’s no better and sweeter victory for a Hertha fan, than against Gelsenkirchen (Schalke 04).
If you’re a blue and white Berliner, you’ll despise the blue and whites of Gelsenkirchen and with a good reason of course! The arrogant team from near Dortmund, the team that caused Hertha to forfeit their Pokal victory, amongst other things, anyone who loves Hertha… hates Schalke. And they’re not afraid to show it.
So when Gelsenkirchen, who were then and still are, pointless in the table and without so much as a draw, came to Berlin, there was literally only one aim…
If there is one game in the season, in the Bundesliga, that Hertha must win… it’s against Gelsenkirchen at home.
Schalke don’t give a monkey’s about Hertha, their club was safe in the history between the clubs, but Hertha suffered as a result. For 04, their big game is against Dortmund. For Hertha, we just want to beat them, by any means possible and by as much as possible.
Either Schalke are just extremely poor this season, or Hertha had been injected with a bit of momentum during Matchday 3… it could’ve been a mixture of both.
Hertha dominated the game and an old face, a much improved Valentin Stocker, managed to get on the scoreboard as well. Totally dominant against a poor Schalke side that are still looking for a point. Hertha were in raptures and Schalke were and still are a mess.
A win against Gelsenkirchen is always worth more sentimentally than any other, because it’s not just a victory for the season but one that personally feels like (revenge in their eyes) but in our eyes, justice.
The battle of the Blau Weiss and Hertha came out on top and in style too.
Every win over Gelsenkirchen is worth more than 3 points in the hearts and eyes of Hertha fans.
And it lifted the spirits no end, since a loss to Bayern was going to be inevitable.
Come on we all knew it would happen.
Perhaps something more worrying was that Kalou and Darida are currently sidelined through injury, the latter out until possibly next year.
Vladimir Darida was injured during a game, tearing a ligament in his foot which required surgery. Although he’s on the mend, he’ll be sorely missed, and I am certainly sending him good wishes and vibes from here in London. Get well soon Vladi.
Bayern…3-3..Frankfurt… What?Yawn, Bayern.
Everyone knew we wouldn’t last 90 minutes against the team that has everything.
We’re classed, sometimes I think unfairly, as minows in the league. But Bayern has everything we don’t in terms of money and the ability to attract big names. But Bayern lack something we do have… a stadium atmosphere.
As a friend who has attended a Bayern match said to me today, ‘they’re so used to winning there’s never any fear they won’t get three points’ and to me, that means they don’t understand what it is to hurt when they lose. Part of the passion therefore disappears, along with the fact that the Allianz is huge and the fan section, the Ultras, are a small part of it, it’s the only part of the ground that is making any noise.
I’ve watched Bayern games, and noticed that everytime they score the noise is significantly different to other clubs in the league. When you’re used to winning, it’s no so exciting to see it every week. It’s like clockwork, part of a machine, a routine. You go there and watch the same thing you see every week.
When you know there’s every possibility you’ll lose and it’s more evenly matched, it’s far more fun!
And of course we were going to lose, it was always bound to happen. Bayern have the opportunity to select from worldwide talent, and we simply don’t. Success means money and attractiveness to a host of world class players. We simply don’t have that… not at the moment.
We were just outclassed and there’s never any shame in losing to Bayern. It’s very normal, although last season we were unlucky in the loss to them in Berlin.
What was nice however, was to see Bayern fans were supporting Hertha fans campaign, of being Blau Weiss. This image appeared online not long after the game, so it seems Bayern’s truest supporters have our backs, against the marketing campaign and in the general feeling that Hertha needs to remain blue and white.
The better game of the two latest games, was away against Eintracht Frankfurt, who in truth were lucky to still have all 11 players on the pitch at full time.
The game became tense and pinged back and forth as fast as a tennis rally. First 1-0 for Hertha with a good penalty taken by captain Vedad Ibisevic. Then suddenly before half time it became 2-1. The lead had slipped through our fingers yet again.
A few murmurs of whether or not the pink was a blessing or a curse were beginning to surface.
But it became 2-2 in the second half thanks to Ibisevic again, who so far this season has been crucial in Hertha’s style, progression and their goalscoring. The new captain was proving the faith Pal Dardai placed in him was well founded.
Then the third goal came for Hertha, as Alexander Esswein, scored a cracking debut goal for the club. So far he definitely seems like he was worth the money Hertha paid for him, but whether or not he’ll continue to make these positive impacts, we won’t know until later in the season.
But Hertha are Hertha… and at 90 minutes, as soon as the 4 additional minutes were added I knew there was going to be a problem and was proven right when Frankfurt equalised in the 92nd minute.
The issue personally for me was that Frankfurt were lucky to still have all 11 players on the pitch. When a clash between Frankfurt defenders and Julian Schieber got too heated, play was stopped, Mitchell Weiser stepped in to defuse the situation and was grabbed round the neck rather forcefully by an opponent. With nasty tackles flying in as well, it’s questionable refereeing, and whether or not he just didn’t have the guts to send someone off or I was seeing something he wasn’t, I’m not quite sure. Sometimes as a referee you just have to produce a red card, and if you choose not to, it’s what we English call “Bottling it”.
Overall, the style has much improved to that first half against Freiburg but there’s always something to work on. Dardai has got a good team, has been working well with decent tactics as well, but there’s still a huge problem we have…
Teething problems: Hertha’s biggest fear (I think)It seems to me that Hertha have a fear of losing…when 90 minutes approaches.
They seem totally comfortable in their winning position until 90 minutes comes and the additional time is announced. If it’s more than 3 minutes, a sort of panic sets in the minds of players and that stems from the belief of “typical Hertha”.
We know that it’s happened before and it could happen again.
We know as fans, that throwing the game away in the last few minutes or in the later stages of the season is considered quite ordinary in our neck of the woods. It happens.
But look at it this way. Two games we’ve conceded in the very last minute, both goals that were similar in the manner they were scored ie headers, both were games that we knew we had 4 or more minutes of added time and whilst we managed to win one of those games, we still conceded as well in that set time.
I don’t know if this overthinking it but this is what I’ve put it down to.
2 minutes of added time in a winning position isn’t bad at all, because you only have to cling to your lead for 2 minutes, but when its 4 or 5 minutes, in the back of your mind you know there is more than enough time for your opponent to equalise. The longer you try and hold on the more likely you are to make mistakes. It only takes a tiny lapse in concentration and then you’ve conceded, and that seems to be what keeps happening. We just can’t hold because there’s the tiny voice at the back of our heads saying “It’s still possible you won’t win” and the more you tell yourself “don’t mess up” the likely you are to mess up. We can’t seem to relax and keep composure at the very end of a game if the lead is only by 1 goal, knowing we’re so close and yet so far from victory.
Maybe I’m wrong but it is tiny mistakes that have cost us in games we know we should’ve won because we were the better team.
Other than that I’ve seen some incredible football from out players and a great belief as well with several players determined to prove themselves this season. It’s inspiring, but of course as Hertha we have to keep going, keep trying and not let any mistakes get us down too much.
But I think the teams biggest fear is letting something slip when they are fully aware they are capable of it, of obtaining 3 points. And in Frankfurt, the atmosphere turning a bit nasty with a rough few minutes against a team lucky to keep their 11 on the field, might have played a role in the result as well. All these things matter, mentality is easily affected. But in Berlin we pick ourselves up and move on, it’s very Berlin. Remember, we try and build.
Feature: My favourite players… and why
Here’s a little piece on some of my favourite players from the club… and why. Lets feature at least one from each playing position.
Starting with the goalkeeper.
Rune JarsteinJarstein isn’t too dissimilar in his position to that of his counterpart Thomas Kraft. Both have a similar style of keeping, both make mistakes and both don’t have the best ball distribution. But the major difference between the two is perhaps in their attitudes towards the game and their teammates. Rune is older and maybe also wiser, but Thomas Kraft, who was number 1 for years at Hertha, has a bit of an issue with his temper. If something isn’t going well, Kraft doesn’t always manage to keep a lid on it and runs his mouth, sometimes even at his own teammates. Frustration shows with Kraft and it’s only a weapon the opponents can use against him, once they’re under his skin he can easily make mistakes or lose concentration, where as Rune Jarstein is known for being calm and collective, level headed and encouraging, and although he does sometimes vent his frustration he’s usually as cool as a cucumber both during and before and after a game. That and the fact he has produced some stunning saves this season and last. He may be a bit older than many of his teammates but he’s definitely wise, so the motto of older and wiser may well fit him very nicely
Marvin PlattenhardtDefensive rock, who came to us from below, Platte has only gotten better and better since his move from Nurnberg.
It’s not considered at all strange for top division clubs to invest their time, money and effort into young players from the 2nd division, often it’s a method of improving those players and fulfilling their potential. Platte is an example of that. Since he arrived in Berlin he has been a defensive rock as well as fantastic set piece man, with some stunning free kicks and goals to add to his name. With a good sense of humour, a good attitude and an understanding of the club, he’s truly appreciated by supporters. His discipline is good, his tackling is hard but usually fair and his skills continuously improves. Some believed he may be considered for the National team in years to come and I hope that idea is realised in the future.
Platte is also one of the many members of the team that keeps in touch with the fans via social media. It’s a platform of expression for him. And it’s always good to have that connection between players and fans.
Fabian Lustenberger (Fussballgott!)The Swiss International, Lusti had been captain of Hertha through the thick and thin, even when they were relegated into the 2nd division.
Again, a defensive rock as well as displaying his shooting skills against Stuttgart last season but scoring an incredible long range volley at the Olympiastadion, Lusti is technically gifted as well as a legend at the club… for a reason that is nowadays lost on the Premier League in England.
Fabian Lustenberger has been at Hertha BSC for years and even when he lost the captaincy to teammate Vedad Ibisevic, remained totally loyal and level headed, calm and collected and no one ever believed he’d lose his position at the club. His loyalty has earned him the title of Fussballgott, and it’s well deserved.
Lusti is also an avid user of Social media and often after games will address supporters on Facebook with a long message, usually with a thank you note attached.
Mitchell WeiserOddly enough, Mitch set up a goal against Hertha for Bayern two seasons ago. Maybe he believed he’d never get regular first team action at the Bayern and therefore believed a move would do him the world of good… he was right. Since coming to Berlin, the youngster has shown he’s worth it, scoring, setting up goals and working great defensively as well. He’s become a vital member of the starting 11, known for his defensive skills, his pace and his finishing.
Unlike a lot of young players, Mitch doesn’t strike me as at all arrogant, but rather mature, a young man that understands the game very very well, and appreciates the chances he’s given.
Clinical finisher, great on the ball, he’s extremely highly valued along with Vladimir Darida and Genki Haraguchi in the midfield. He’s got pace and that makes well for the count attacking style Hertha often use. And he’s wise beyond his years, often well disciplined, and like every younger, loses his cool every so often, but hey that’s pretty normal.
I make no secret of the fact that Vedad is my favourite Hertha player. The captain was born and represents the country that my family are also from; Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it’s personal achievements along with his Bundesliga triumphs that make him my number 1.
Vedad, unlike many of his German teammates isn’t always a cool and level headed player. He has the trait of having a rather explosive temper. It was seen last season when he received a red card again Schalke and he’s received red cards throughout his career for careless tackles brought on by venting frustration. A snap second and one doesn’t think. It just happens and sometimes it builds a reputation. Luckily with our Bosnian boy, that didn’t happen, he’s not seen as a thug and is well respected.
Sadly, the Balkans is notorious for problems in football, fan and crowd trouble and some rather rough and questionable styles of play from the national team. It’s always associated with violence and sometimes that stereotype of unjust and unfair.
Usually it seems to me that Vedad is actually a level headed guy and pushes his teammates as captain to do their best, but he plays a lot with the heart. He’s experienced as well, and he brings that to the table every game. Whilst he’s skillful, he’s growing older and the clock is ticking for him although he shows no signs of slowing down, he still has the ability to score an overhead bicycle kick as he showed against Brondby. There’s a raw passion and determination to do well in there. But it may be also his backstory that make me personally respect the Vedator.
Being born or alive in Bosnia during the 1990’s wasn’t at all easy. You were lucky to survive. There’s been plenty of rumours about Vedad escaping Bosnia and what happened to his family there, many circulating that he hid whilst his village was burnt to the ground and some of his family murdered.
Luckily, Vedad did and escape the war as a child, went first to Switzerland and grew up in the US where he began to play football. Representing his nation at the world cup must’ve been an incredible honour but to core their first world cup finals goal ever? A beautiful moment, but the horrors of war never leave you, yet Vedad came out of it and now endorses several charities as well, and has made a great success of his life playing the sport he loves. To me, Vedad is the type of player to look up to ad aspire to be. The idea that no matter what has happened to you in the past you can make it if you give it everything. Someone that is a survivor and fought hard to make it, that loves the game and gives it everything in every game.
And being part Bosnian myself, I’m proud to say we have a Bosnian at Hertha.
Torschutze: Ibisevic and Esswein after the second goal against Frankfurt
Julian SchieberWhen I think of Schieber, one word comes to mind.
When Schieber was out injured for so long, it’s easy for him to start believing you may never play for the club again or you no longer have anything to offer. Whilst Julian is skilled and with a fierce shot, when you’re sidelined for so long it’s very easy to believe that the skill becomes lost, but with Schieber that isn’t the case.
His successful preseason was the boost he most likely needed. I think Julian believed, somewhere in the back of his mind, that he had to prove himself to the coaching staff, that he was worth taking a chance on and when he came on against Freiburg, his sheer determination to score even when it seemed all hope was lost at 95 minutes, he was the one so so determined to make sure we’d get the three points that he never gave up on a chance that looked as though it was gone. After so long out of the team, he more than proved he is still worth taking a chance on. Not only did he work hard to get into the scoring position, he finished as well, under immense pressure.
There kind of determination and that belief is admirable, along with the fact that like many of his teammates, he’s comes across as down to earth and doesn’t come across as at all arrogant and understands what a good performance means.
The market problem: Pink? English? And why at heart, pink is not the problemAlready so early in the season, there’s been fan protests against two matters that were beyond supporters control.
The first is with the new pink third shirt.
Personally, I like the colour, but the idea behind it I’m less of a fan of.
There seems to be a marketing campaign set up by those above, to make Hertha more attractive to football fans world wide but the truth is you should want to support Hertha and be a fan for a good reason, not because they’re internationally attractive.
I’m a fan of Hertha from the UK, because I absolutely adore the city and the club that represents them. I’m made to feel welcome at the Olympiastadion because that is my reason. People understand that I’m not some glory fan looking for victory but more someone that loves the sport and loves the city and so they welcome me and respect me like many of fellow English Hertha fans.
Changing the colour of the third shirt doesn’t bother me too much. The reason, is that it was the third shirt. Had they changed the home colours, I’d have been furious and there’d probably have been a riot. I understand the annoyance because the fans were never asked, never considered and never approached about the colour, the management from above decided on it by themselves. No Hertha fan would ever approve a bright pink shirt.
Sportingly, Mitchell Weiser has seen the lighter side of the situation and refers to Hertha in pink as the “Pink Panthers”.
Whilst the players, who were part of the chants of “Blau! Weiss!” in the Ostkurve after matchday 1 and the victory over Freiburg, are fully aware of the fans concerns and their determination to keep Hertha blue and white, they too must make the most of a situation they cannot control.But again it’s the idea behind it.
To have such a bright coloured shirt for a club that is notorious for being blue and white and the third kit usually Red and Black, it’s a huge change and not a welcome one.
It reminds fans that the decision made on the kit wasn’t theirs at all, as though that part of the club is out of their hands. Part of the German tradition is that fans and members are allowed to have a say on most decisions and on this one there wasn’t a choice. The pink is a bright reminder of that and a hint at additional fears that club will focus so hard on trying to become more internationally attractive and friendly, that they’ll give up the rights of the fans to have voting shares (Like RB Leipzig have) and the club will no longer be in their control. I think the fear could be that this is how a take over begins.
And the idea of a marketing campaign is absurd to Hertha fans, because most of us feel we don’t need one.
If you love the city and enjoy it, and love the club and share its values, that should be enough. You shouldn’t be attracted to a club for any other reason. Hertha may want to attract new fans just as any other club does… but a marketing campaign that costs money really isn’t the way to go about it.
That may be another point. This campaign… it costs money, and may well be very unsuccessful.
The other change, the new Motto? That I understand a lot more.
Whilst I fully support the message behind it, which I think has been lost in translation (We Try We Fail We Win… aka we support this team no matter whether we win or not) I do understand why Germans aren’t especially happy with it.
Someone pointed out somewhere online “Why is our motto in English?”
A great point! Why?
Last season, Aus Berlin Fur Berlin was the motto…it’s still German. I’m English and even I believe any motto associated with a German club with German traditions should be in German. You don’t see English clubs with Spanish or German Mottos (Only Latin which was considered part of English Culture)
Again, trying to attract English fans or fans outside of Germany? People shouldn’t want to come to support Hertha because they can understand the language. My German is passable but I couldn’t live in Berlin properly (Or at least I’d feel very uncomfortable) because I understand only a little of the language. But that doesn’t mean I have ever felt excluded at Hertha. In fact many fans are fascinated to see English fans at their home matches. They don’t need a marketing campaign to attract fans, that’s how clubs worldwide work and Germany prides itself on being different to them.
And I agree. Hertha BSC are a German club therefore should be associated with a German motto.
Youtube has also started to feature “Hertha calling”, an English series of videos which I actually enjoy, but I think some fans are starting to believe Hertha is trying too hard to become internationally attractive.
Someone commented on there “As if there are Hertha fans in England”. Although English is the most widely spoken language in the world.
There are fans here, the majority of them like myself, support the team for good reason (At least I think we do), for the right reasons.
We’re not RB Leipzig, or Leverkusen or Wolfsburg ect, we dont need sponsors, or marketing campaigns, no matter the decent idea behind him.
We just need to be allowed to be the club we are. Successful or not.
But always in Blue and White
OverallIt’s been a good start to our season.
Fans are still insistent that we are Blau Weiss! and that’s always good, because blue and white is Hertha, but maybe the Bundesliga is changing? With RB Leipzig in existence, with these little marketing ploys? Of course fans will react and protest.
Just look at the Koln fans stopping the Leipzig bus reaching their stadium. Fans are angry. They don’t want to lose the league and tradition they have.
Good for them! So long as people stand up and are heard, German football will never become like the MLS or what the Premier League has become.
But the football matters most and that has been pretty good so far.
We have to keep this up and above all, believe that we can succeed! We have the ability, whether or not everyone knows it yet.
And as per usual, Hertha will have some ups and downs but so far this season looks promising.
So long as we don’t look like relegation contenders it’s all fine by me, although an ambition not to relegated isn’t held high in regard.
We as a team have potential, so lets hope the staff, players and coaches realise that potential and try and use it best they can.
As for where we will finish? My prediction in 9th or 10 by April.
In the Pokal? Who knows? St Pauli haven’t had the best of starts to the season but by the team Hertha pay them a visit, it might change. You know what they say about underdogs.
Ha Ho He