In dire straits, Hertha Berlin have once again turned to Hungarian club legend Pál Dárdai to help get them out of the relegation hole they find themselves in. Friday’s loss to Schalke was the final straw for Sandro Schwarz, but with just six games left this season, can Dárdai orchestrate the ‘Great ‘Escape’?
It will come as no surprise that of the current bottom four in the Bundesliga, all four have sacked their coach this season in the hope of getting a reaction and pulling clear of the drop zone. The wisdom of these choices will only be known at the end of the season, but Hertha Berlin have left their move to change trainer very late.
Sandro Schwarz has been continually backed by the club despite a dismal season and even he wasn’t safe from the chop and this weekend’s 5-2 hammering at fellow strugglers Schalke saw the club push the panic button.
The man the capital club have turned to is Pál Dárdai, a coach now at the Olympiastadion for his third stint as Hertha coach. The 47-year-old had previously been in charge from February 2015 to summer 2019 and January to November 2021. The club now desperately need him to work his magic in the short time he has available.
“I’m pleased that Pál agreed to take charge of Hertha BSC in the midst of this challenging situation” club boss Benjamin Weber explained on Sunday. “Pál has proven twice before that he is able to bring stability to a team with his clear manner, and that he’s able to guide teams out of similar situations. We’re convinced he will do so now again” said Weber.
The new coach also revealed he didn’t need to think twice about stepping into the breach at this late stage of the season. “Everyone knows of my connection to Hertha BSC, which is why I didn’t need long to make a decision when the call came. There are six games left, with potentially two more on top, and I will give everything along with the team to make sure that the club stay in the Bundesliga. It won’t be easy, but I’m looking forward to it.”
The words sound good, but it will be the actions on the pitch that will decide Hertha’s fate this season. In a way Dárdai has a free pass- save Hertha and his legendary status at the club will only increase, fail and not an iota of blame can be apportioned to him.
He has been a regular visitor to the Olympiastadion this season to watch the side and in particular his son Marton. The wisdom of giving Sandro Schwarz so long to turn things around is a major point of contention, but so too is the poor quality of squad he was provided with following last season’s flirtation with the relegation play-offs.
You reap what you sow and the sporting management of Hertha over the past few years is finally coming home to roost. The painful reality of relegation is now dawning on those in charge, hence the call for Dárdai the Saviour.
The current outlook is bleak with die Alte Dame bottom of the table with only six games remaining this season, but there is a glimmer of hope. Things are still tight at the bottom with Schalke just a point ahead, Stuttgart two points clear and 15th place Bochum five points ahead.
They face Werder Bremen at home next weekend before facing a tough trip to face Bayern at the Allianz Arena. Their remaining home games against VfL Bochum and VfB Stuttgart will be the key fixtures as they can claw back points from direct relegation rivals. Trips to Wolfsburg and Köln, while tough, are not the biggest challenge with neither side really having much to play for.
If they were offered 16th spot and play-off now I suspect many Hertha fans would take that and take their chances against the 2.Bundesliga’s third best team. Ideally they would inch one place higher, but that is a big ask.
The arrival of Dárdai will certainly have a galvanising effect and a bounce-back win over Werder Bremen next weekend wouldn’t be a huge shock. It’s what happens after the Bayern match that will really count for Hertha. The big question now is: are there two/ three teams worse than Hertha right now and more likely to go down?
Easter has just past so the time for miracles is over. However, should Dárdai pull off this rescue mission at Hertha, then it would surely go down as a Bundesliga miracle and the Hungarian will enjoy blowing the celebratory cigar circles once again.