Winter break: Hamburger SV

13th place

Grade: C-

HSV has the potential to be a force in German football, but they’re all messed up and the question is “How much will they underachieve this season?“. The answer can often be “Quite a bit!“. This season looked like perhaps one for the ages, if you’re a St.Pauli fan that is :) They got off to a horrible start. Only in the last few matches have they shown signs of life – largely due to a coaching change . Precarious situation for the only remaining original founder of the Bundesliga never to have been relegated.

Jaroslav Drobny has been the steady GK, but hasn’t really impressed that much. I wouldn’t say he’s a problem, but the level of goal-keeping in Germany is quite high, so if you’re not constantly getting high marks, you’re not doing your job. On the other hand, he *has* been quite good since Fink took over as coach, so maybe that was all was needed.

The defense has been fairly shaky. Captain Heiko Westermann has been good, but left back Dennis Aogo (9 caps for Germany) has been pretty crap. Other defenders have been even worse. Ex-Wolverhampton Englishman Michael Mancienne might be the crappiest player in the league based on his performances.

The midfield has stunk. International Marcell Jansen has struggled, although he might be suited more for defense. Gojko Kacar and Ivo Ilicevicwere supposed to add a lot, but they’ve been crap. The only player showing some promise is youngster Gökhan Töre.

HSV is not getting value for money up front either. High priced talent Paulo Guerrero and Mladen Petric have been lame. Their play has been poor, and I think the fans expect more than 8 goals from them. In their defense, both have suffered nagging injuries this season. South Korean Son Heung-min isn’t setting the world on fire, managing 3 goals, and supposed Swedish wonder Marcus Berg has been invisible when he’s played.

Coach Michael Oenning was clearly out of his league, and HSV continued to stink and sink. Not sure it was his fault completely, but he certainly wasn’t getting results from a squad that has some talent – at least on paper. Management fired his ass without a clear successor, but to their credit (not that they deserve much, since they’re alargely responsible for this whole mess. Frank Arnesen must be the most over-rated GM in the history of football. Did zip at Chelski and obviously even less with a fraction of the budget at HSV). They basically floundered as youth coach Rudolfo Cardoso (a HSV mini-legend) filled in, and even Arnesen tried his hand. Finally, Torsten Fink was brought in, and he appears to have stabilized the ship. They’re not yet out of the woods, but the trend is upward, and I would expect they should have no trouble avoiding relegation.

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