The Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga restarted this weekend after play was suspended on March 13 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. During the extended suspension, Hertha BSC confirmed the appointment of Bruno Labbadia. The former Bayer Leverkusen, Hamburg and Wolfsburg manager’s first game in charge of the capital city club was a 3-0 win away to TSG Hoffenheim. Goals from Vedad Ibišević and Matheus Cunha in the second half after a Hoffenheim own goal sealed the victory. Hertha are now eight points above the bottom three.
Bruno Labbadia Wins First Match as Hertha BSC Manager
Labbadia is Hertha’s Fourth Manager This Season
Hopes of managerial stability rest on Bruno Labbadia’s shoulders as he is already the fourth man to take charge of Hertha this season. The flirtation with relegation comes as a surprise after four years of steady mid-table form that saw two qualifications for European football.
Labbadia’s appointment makes him the fifth manager to take charge of the West Berlin club in less than a year. Pál Dárdai was Hertha manager for more than four years, before deciding to step down after the 2018-19 season. The Hungarian took charge of a relegation bound side in February 2015, leading Hertha to safety. The next four seasons were defined by pushes for European football. Dárdai led the club to seventh place in the 2015-16 campaign and sixth place in the 2016-17 campaign, qualifying for the Europa League in both.
After four-and-a-half seasons in charge, Dárdai decided to step down in 2019 after a disappointing rückrunde. His replacement was Ante Čović, a former Hertha player like Dárdai, and the Hertha II manager for six years. The beginning of Čović’s tenure, however, was extremely underwhelming. The Croat was in charge for twelve Bundesliga fixtures, picking up a measly ten points and leaving the side in a relegation battle.
Čović’s replacement was Jürgen Klinsmann, who had not managed a club side in more than ten years. The former Bayern Munich and German National Team manager’s reign only lasted until February. Ironically, it started with many grandiose visions of a “big city club.” “I’ve always said that Berlin deserves a super club. This is our capital. Berlin and Germany deserve it,” Klinsmann confidently proclaimed in early January. He resigned after a shock three-one home defeat to Mainz 04, putting Hertha just above the relegation play-off spot. Klinsmann resigned shortly thereafter, arguing that, “As head coach, I also need the trust of the people involved in this task, which has not yet been completed. Unity, cohesion and focus on the essentials are the most important elements in a relegation battle. If they are not guaranteed, I cannot exploit my potential as a trainer and therefore cannot live up to my responsibility.”
Former Werder Bremen manager Alexander Nouri took charge of Hertha after Klinsmann’s sudden departure. The club and its fans were in crisis. In four Bundesliga fixtures, Nouri was able to accrue five points, and steady the ship to some degree. A 5-0 home defeat to 1. FC Köln proved that he was not the right choice.
The Extended Break Allowed Hertha BSC to Acquire the Experienced Bruno Labbadia
Hertha BSC’s leadership quickly understood that an experienced Bundesliga manager had to take charge. The Covid-19 pandemic gave the club more time to find a replacement for Klinsmann. Bruno Labbadia has previously managed Hamburg, Bayer Leverkusen, VfB Stuttgart, and VFL Wolfsburg. He most notably lead Hamburg to victory in the 2015-16 relegation playoff, continuing the club’s remarkable record of being the only club to not be relegated from the Bundesliga.
Labbadia is the Bundesliga variant of Sam Allardyce. He is very effective at taking charge of clubs in danger of relegation and keeping them in the Bundesliga. Just like Allardyce, however, Labbadia is not a long term manager. His longest managerial spell came at Stuttgart, where he was in charge for three seasons. Labbadia will lead Hertha BSC into next season, but it is unlikely to last past the 2020-21 campaign.