There are no bones about it, even people at the club are admitting it, Hamburg are in trouble. The former seven-time German Champions and one-time European Cup winners are sitting 17th in the Bundesliga just past the halfway stage of the season and face the real possibility of their first ever relegation.
Thorsten Fink got off to a poor start that led to his sacking in late September, but after a bright beginning to the Bert van Marwijk era it’s turned sour, with his side just winning once in the past nine games. The team look incredibly low on confidence; performers in last season’s 7th place finish have either gone or have gone missing this season which has the Red Shorts hanging by a thread.
It’s not difficult to see the area in which things are going wrong. The club has conceded the most goals in the Bundesliga, shipping 44 in just 19 games isn’t good enough. It was poor in Fink’s reign when they shipped 5 to Hoffenheim and 6 at Dortmund, but van Marwijk hasn’t improved the defence at all during his reign with the team conceding three goals in each of their last four games.
Different combinations have been tried, 7 defenders have had over 400 minutes this season through injury or changing the side and they haven’t found a winning combination. Westermann hasn’t seemed at his best for a while now, especially since he was removed as captain and signings like Johan Djourou which looked promising have failed to invigorate the side.
At the other end of the field there has been less problems with Pierre-Michel Lasogga looking like a good loan deal and players such as Hakan Calhanoglu performing well but there isn’t any depth. Zoua has been disappointing at best and they’ve now allowed Artjoms Rudnevs, who was excellent last season, to go out on loan to Hannover and score twice in two games.
Scoring 33 goals so far is actually pretty good with only six other teams having scored more, so when the team’s deficiencies are so blatantly obvious why was nothing done in January? Finances have been running short in more recent times, loan deals were made for midfield players rather than bringing in defensive reinforcements, which now seems very much like a mistake.
All signs are pointing to a similar situation van Marwijk had at Holland, his attacking style worked with the players they had but the deficiencies in both talent and structure in defence were never addressed. Fans marched to the club’s training ground today in an attempt to spur on the ailing side but it might be a change in attitude needed to steer the club away from relegation.