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The Happel curse

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Ever since Ernst Happel left the club, the Hamburger SV has struggled to live up to the fans expectations. Here is why.

It was easy to spot the relief on Armin Veh’s face after the HSV 1-0 victory over an injury-plagued Eintracht Frankfurt

Armin Veh has already won one Bundesliga championship with VfB Stuttgart. Will he be able to lead the HSV to glory?

side. Before the start of the spring season Veh was amongst the league’s  top contenders to loose his position as a coach. Veh has somewhat managed to pull his head out of the noose with two rather dodgey 1-0 victories. However, it is unclear if Veh is able to keep his job if his team doesn’t continue to win games. 
The revolving door policy

Standards in Hamburg are high. The press and the fans are expecting a top three finish every season, and glorious Champions League matches. Ever since Ernst Happel left the club the reality has been a different one. The club managed to win the league twice, the cup once and the European Cup once during the reign of the Austrian.(The European Cup turned later into the Champions League).

After Happel left the club a total of 17 coaches during 23 years have tried to lead the club to success. (Here is a list over all the coaches the HSV has had since the start of the Bundesliga in 1963). All of them failed. Giving coaches less then two seasons to establish themselves is generally believed to be a mistake. Thomas Schaaf needed a total of four seasons to win his first title with Werder Bremen(excluding the

Glory days: Lars Bastrup (r.) stops the BFC-player Hans Jürgen Riediger in an European Cup match in 1982.

DFB-Cup he won a couple of month after he had taken charge of Bremen). I do not believe that Hamburg ever will win another title if they give their coaches less then two seasons to establish themselves at the club. Coaches like Happel, who win the league in their first season, are rare. If Hamburg is trying to find another Ernst Happel, they will have to wait for the next title for a really long time.

Money fixes
Money will certainly buy you a couple of hours of “loving” on the Reeperbahn in Hamburg, but the HSV has spent its money even more unwisely then those who frequent the Reeperbahn. The signing of Ruud van Nistelrooy seems to go into the history of the club as another signing that wasn’t worth the effort the club put into it. The Dutchman arrived with a history of injuries, but the HSV still chose to trust his abilities. Now that van Nistelrooy has stayed with the club for just one year he wants to move again. Roughly the same thing happened with Rafael van der Vaart, and a number of different players.

Furthermore, the club has made a number of really poor, costly signings. Cristian Raul Ledesma is one such example.

Costly and ineffective: Cristian Raul Ledesma played a total of 16 Bundesliga matches, not scoring a single goal. Here he is in the jersey of Olympiacos.

However, it has to be remarked that coaches who don’t get to stay for more then a year or a year and half have a hard time to form the team that they have in mind. A manager needs at least two transfer windows, sometimes even four or five transfer windows, to form a team that he is happy with.

If Veh isn’t given more than a season to prove himself at the club, he will most certainly fail like all the of the other 16 coaches that have tried their luck after Ernst Happel left. And like all of them, he really didn’t get the chance to prove himself either.

Update: the Bundesliga for newcomers segment will be finished this weekend, so stay tuned.
Should Armin Veh stay at Hamburg? Leave a comment below.

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About Niklas

Niklas Wildhagen has been following the Bundesliga for over 20 years and he is the editor in chief of the Bundesliga fanatic.

6 responses »

  1. I believe Veh is great coach but dont know is his decision or president and sports director of the team to sell Mladen Petric cause that was the idea of HSV 5 months ago and Stuttgart already make a proposal and wished to buy him and in the last moment they decided Petric cant leave,after that Petric was mad but he is professional football player and he stayed and give everything to team which was excellent for HSV because he scored some very important goals,I believe Petric should be first choice in attack of HSV,yes even before Ruud van Nistelrooy..if Veh understands that and give him that place HSV will surely catch at least 3-rd position in Bundesliga and will have the chance to play Champ.league next year,now Petric is fit and must play every game in starting eleven,Veh will show he is good coach if he sees that,at least thats my opinion.

    Reply
    • Well, I already think that Veh has shown that he is a good coach. I admire that he doesn’t seem to be afraid to take over challenging clubs like Hamburg and Wolfsburg.

      Having said that, I agree Petric should start on a regular basis. He is probably one of the five best strikers in the Bundesliga. Additionally, van Nistelrooy doesn’t seem to be committed to Hamburg after his transfer to Real fell through as well.

      Reply
  2. well I was mabye being too harsh on Veh,I believe he is good coach,maybe even very good but to me personally it seems that he has lack of confidence in his decisions,I would like that he says this is my first eleven,this are substitutes and these are players that need to improve and I would like to see that first eleven or 11 from 14 players playing most of games,starting the games,this way it looks like he is improvising too much..also Ruud wished to leave and for me after that he cant be nr.1 choise in first 11 of HSV…

    Reply
    • I agree on Ruud van Nistelrooy… he shouldn’t start. leading Hamburg is difficult, and the press in hamburg is famous for its vicious attacks. I think this might have gone to veh’s head. but, why wouldn’t it? stuttgart and wolfsburg have a press following as well, but the press is much nicer to them. getting to grips with the press in hamburg might take a year.

      and yes, you are right, veh should have 14 or 15 players and say “those are my guys, and only a massive amount of injuries will give the other players a chance to get into the starting line up”.

      Reply
  3. yeah,that is what I am talking about,sure you need 22 players because of many games and injuries and everything,but you must know who is starting lineup,here in croatia we had great national team 10 years ago and Miroslav Blazevic was the man leading them,his thoughts were-every kid knows staring 11 of my team,birds are singing those 11 and I will not change them unless injuries get us…2 years later those 11 plus 3 substitutes went to world cup finishing 3-rd..the players need confidence and they knew if they play 1 or 2 matches really weak they would still be in the team and that gave them self confidence and that is the right way to lead a team,at least thats my opinion…
    -never the less st.pauli game this weekend is a must win match for HSV,I cant wait too see the starting 11 of HSV.

    Reply
    • 100% agreed. Man, Croatia had a great team in the 98 WC. If they had been a little bit luckier they could have gone all the way… That is impressive, considering that Croatia has only ca. 5 million inhabitants. Which is the same as Norway, and look how far we have gotten when it comes to our achievements in competitive football.

      Reply

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