Winter break: Hertha BSC Berlin

11th Place

Grade: C

Hertha is known as “die alte Dame” (the grand dame), and that’s appropriate, because sometimes they play like that. They just recovered from Dieter Hoeness reign-of-error and are promoted back into the Bundesliga. (Now how must that suck. Dieter was inferior to Uli as a player and even worse as a general manager. He’s managed to stink whereever he’s been…) They got out of the blocks fast, but they’re back to reality, and staying up could be a struggle. Still, hard work has got them in a mid-table spot, and they look strong enough.

GK Thomas Kraft (23) has been rock solid, so no problems there.

The defense has been OK, led by Christian Lell. He’s been one of Berlin’s better players. Slovenian Andre Mijatovic has been serviceable. There were high expectations for veteran Maik Franz, but he’s been plagued with injuries.

The midfield has held up pretty well. Brazilian Raffael has been quite good, probably Hertha’s best field player, and knocked in 5 goals as well. DM Peter Niemeyer has been solid. Andreas Ottl came from Bayern and has done OK. The other midfield positions have seen lots of candidates, but nobody has stood out.

The attack hasn’t been impressive, but Hertha seems more defensively oriented anyway. Pierre-Michel Lassogga has 6, Colombian Adrian Ramos 4, but neither has been anything to write home about.

Coach Markus Babbel seemed to have things under control, but clearly wasn’t happy. In fact, he announced he would be leaving at the end of the season. It’s not clear what the problem was, maybe he is just burnt out.  A shocked management then fired his ass and hired Michael Skibbe, who’ll take over immediately and debuts after winter break. That’s a risky move, since Skibbe has pretty much sucked whereever he’s gone.

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