1. Lennart, you are a blogger and podcaster at rundumdenbrustring.de. Let me first congratulate you on acquiring Alex Esswein… Who makes these deals? First you pay half of Ibisevic’s wages for two years and now this. What is your reaction to reports that he now has to be bought by VfB due to making a certain amount of appearances?
We always like to help out those in need! In all seriousness: Ibisevic was our most important striker for a while but got sent off with a red card during the fifth game of an eight game losing streak in the woes of the relegation battle in 2013-14. He was suspended by the league for five games after which two things happened: he was used as a scapegoat by many fans because he had let the team down with his red card and also he never scored another goal for VfB. So the club decided to get rid of him and obviously took any offer. With Esswein, our former head of sport, Michael Reschke, was in a bit of a tight spot. He needed a winger to improve the offense after his summer transfers didn’t really pan out.
He probably thought, that Esswein would be a success, if he had 14 appearances. Well, he wasn’t exactly that. We can’t complain about the effort he puts into running and tackling, but as a striker, I expect more assists and goals from him. The problem was that our now sacked manager Markus Weinzierl put him in the starting formation anyway week after week.
After this season, having to pay 2 million euros for a guy like him, is just the icing on the cake.
2. I don’t really know how to start this, I feel so sorry for you guys. I follow you on Twitter and this season has been just one giant shit show. 6 wins, 6 ties and 19 losses, you are on your third coach now. Before the season started, there was talk of aiming for Europe and being done with relegation, but boy did that backfire. Can you explain what happened this season or even in the past few years to our listeners who don’t necessarily know too much about Stuttgart? Is there an explanation?
If there was an explanation, I’d be making a lot of money. 😉 This season is indeed pretty shitty, or to be precise: the worst season in our Bundesliga history. I don’t think anybody seriously aimed for Europe, but we were all hoping for a nice, relaxed season in the cozy no man’s land of the middle of the table. Basically where Hertha is at right now.
Our roster moves weren’t even that bad, albeit quite expensive. The short term problem is that our former manager Tayfun Korkut managed to lead the team to 7th place last season with a series of unlikely wins in spring, which culminated in us beating up Bayern Munich in their stadium 4-1. When this season started, it became obvious that Korkut was just a fireman, as we say in Germany, but he wasn’t able to develop the team and his playing style. Worst of all, Reschke obviously did not talk to him before signing new players, because he did not know what to do with them.
On top of that, our more experienced players, especially Gonzalo Castro, underperformed dramatically and our younger and new players were just not yet up for the task. This has not changed with the second manager of the season, the aforementioned Markus Weinzierl who also lost the team because he worked only with a small circle of players while others almost never got a chance to play.
In the long term, the last ten years were a constant slide downwards. We all long for a season without a manager change and a relegation battle.
3. What is your expectation for the next season? And what will it be, first or second tier? What has to change to stabilise your club?
I hope it will be the first tier, although it seems pretty certain that we have to win the relegation playoff for that to happen. First and foremost we need continuity – but with the right people in charge. Thomas Hitzlsperger, former German international, championship-winning-goal-scorer and Aston Villa player is now our head of sport and is trying to induce more stability in the club and is currently looking for a new manager for next season. We also signed Sven Mislintat, until February Head of Scouting at Arsenal FC, to be our sports director. I hope that together they will build a team and find a manager that we can hold on to for a while. I just want a season where I can lean back in April and May.
4. What is your personal highlight of the season so far? [If applicable…]
You are right, there aren’t many highlights. Mind you, this the season of the 125th anniversary of the founding of the club and the festivities at the beginning of the season were the only reason to celebrate so far.
Of course the 5-1 win over relegation battle contender Hanover 96 was pretty nice. Off the pitch it was probably the publication of the long overdue book on club’s history in the Third Reich. Mind you, this the season of the 125th anniversary of the founding of the club and the festivities at the beginning of the season were the only reason to celebrate so far.
5. Hertha comes off another bleak performance in the spring, after beating Bayern and Gladbach at the beginning of the season. What is your prediction for Saturday and where will you be watching the match?
I really don’t know what to make of our team. After we got massacred six nil by Augsburg two weeks ago and lost our manager, the team managed to pull itself together against Gladbach and won one nil. I get the impression that Hertha’s season is running out of steam, maybe we can profit from the fact that your team has nothing to gain or lose anymore. But I really can’t tell this season. I will be watching the match from the away end at the Olympiastadion. It is my first away game at Hertha, the only other time I went to the stadium was at the cup final in 2013, which we lost to Bayern Munich.
6. If there is anything else you want to tell us, go ahead. And good luck for the rest of the season. #dietrichraus
Thank you for the good luck wishes. I hope that the answer to „When shall we two meet again?“ is „Next season in the Bundesliga“. Nothing more to say. Oh and yes: #Dietrichout!
You can find Lennart on the Twitter under @l_sauerwald…