Return of the Dinosaur: Have Bert Van Marwijk's Hamburg Turned the Corner?
Image courtesy of Eurosport.yahoo.com
The old dinosaur is back. Or so it would seem, as Hamburg go in to Sunday afternoon's Bundesliga round with a tricky away match in Freiburg on the back of a three-game undefeated streak since new coach Bert van Marwijk took over at the northern club.
The former Dutch national team coach is of course no stranger to German football, with a two-year stint at Borussia Dortmund before a certain Jurgen Klopp turned up at their doors. But Van Marwijk seems to have settled in well in Hamburg with two draws and a solitary win in his first three games.
It's a run of results that would raise few eyebrows—but compared to the crazy tenure of Thorsten Fink, who won just one game in the league this season before losing his job, most Hamburg fans will be more than welcoming to the prospect of stability.
As one of the Bundesliga's most distinguished and successful clubs, Hamburg have long held the title of sleeping giants, with disappointing results year in and year out.
One man who is happy about the appointment of the new coach is Rafael van der Vaart, Hamburg's best player and supposedly the man who pushed through for the new coach's deal at the club.
Van der Vaart has never been the most professional or consistent of players, yet his interest has clearly peaked with his compatriot now in charge of the club. When the Dutch playmaker gets going, we usually see Hamburg also turn up a gear, and with two goals and two assists in the three games Van Marwijk has been at the club, it's easy to see why this has been such a smart move by the board.
The acquisition of Van der Vaart himself was seen as a strong sign of intent from those in charge of the Bundesliga side to not only build the squad around him, but bring in a manager who could really spur him on. When Van der Vaart is at the top of his game, Hamburg are usually moving up the table and Marwijk knows that is probably his easiest method to success.
If that doesn't work, there is one other player who has grabbed Hamburg by the scruff of the neck and has shown every intent of pulling them up the league table: Pierre-Michel Lasogga, the 21-year-old striker from Hertha Berlin who has quickly established himself as HSV's main goalscorer.
In much the same manner as Van der Vaart, Lasogga's performances have simply exploded over the past three weeks, with five goals in his past three games for Van Marwijk's side.
The young striker was on hand with a vital goal to ensure Hamburg took a point from VfB Stuttgart last week, in a match they probably should have lost, while a hat-trick the weekend before was the first in the Bundesliga for the striker as his side swept Nurnberg aside by five goals to nil.
For Hamburg, these three men in their own specific ways have arrived at the club and now seem intent on turning things around. Finally, the old club has a manager with an ounce of tactical ability and a wealth of experience in dealing with world class players such as Van der Vaart and rising starts like young Lasogga.
If all three can work together and continue what they've started, Hamburg may one day pull away from that endless mid-table battle and look on to brighter prospects further up the league.
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