Berlin’s last season was remarkable and they followed it up with a good start in this year’s campaign. We talked to Marc Schwitzky, chief editor at Hertha BASE 1892 about Hertha’s recent success, their current situation and their expectations for the new season.
Hi Marc, could you please introduce yourself to our readers. How did you become a Hertha supporter and what connections do you have to the club.?
Hi Justin! My name is Marc Schwitzky, I’m 20 years old and I live and go to a college in Berlin. I also run the blog Hertha BASE 1892 together with six comrades to report about the current affairs at “the old lady”.
I became a supporter by a very classical move, my dad has always been a fan and when I was 6 he took me to a game at the Olympiastadion. I still remember that we played against TSV 1860 Munich and that we sealed their relegation. Ever since then I was hooked. Great players and icons like Niko Kovac, Marcelinho, Arne Friedrich and Josip Simunic were also a factor.
Hertha had a great run last season. What would you say were the most important puzzle pieces for that success?
First of all you have to name the coaching team: Pal Dardai and Rainer Widmayer have done a fantastic job since Jos Luhukay left. It may sound a bit strange, but they taught the team to play football again. We learned to use possession, to be compact in defence and to use our counter-attacks.
Furthermore Michael Preetz the sporting director deserves credit! He signed Darida, Weiser, Ibisevic and Stark who eventually became the centre pieces of the success and he was able to keep important players like Skjelbred and Brooks.
But of course the team’s performance in the end was the decisive factor and the played a hell of a season. There was hunger and playfulness. Kalou and Ibisevic were weapons in attack. Darida controlled the midfield and Skjelbred played an astonishing season defensively. The whole back four was very stable and so the foundation for success. Last but not least the change on the goalkeeper position from Thomas Kraft to Rune Jarstein was a benefit for the team.
Hertha looked like an overperformer from the outside, securing results that looked better than their games. Would you agree on that and do you think that is repeatable?
The start was promising, but cannot speak for the whole season. I think we could last year’s performance, because the team stayed together, not having lost a single starter. Additionally young players like Weiser, Brooks or Stark have gained experience. Hertha has built a wonderful foundation last season. Can Hertha get 50 points again? Absolutely! Will the other top teams have a collective break down like in 2015/2016? Very unlikely. Wolfsburg, Schalke & Co. won’t struggle as much this season, making it harder for Hertha to move as high again in the final table.
Sinan Kurt came to Bayern as a big talent and later on was sold to Berlin. How do you rate his development and do you believe he could have his breakthrough at Hertha?
Kurt has really had some complicated years. In a very short time span he went from talent of his generation to an unteachable prig – In Berlin he has the quiet surroundings to completely focus on football again. Pal Dardai is a good coach for young talents and should help him get used to football on senior’s level. Kurt has used the preseason and has worked on his body. Currently he doesn’t make the cut for the 18 player squad, but he is close. In the winter break we will have a better picture of him. If he stays patient, Dardai will give him a chance to prove himself.
Let’s talk about the upcoming game in Munich. Which tactical approach do you expect from your team?
Dardai has a different match plan for every game, so I’m very eager to see how he will take on this challenge.
Hertha could play with a back five. With Brooks and Langkamp we have a very strong central defence that could be complemented with Lustenberger as a sweeper, which has worked well once against the BVB. Pekarik on the right and Plattenhardt on the left. Stark/Skjelbred/Darida in front of them, Haraguchi and Weiser as fast wingers and poacher Ibisevic in attack.
Is an approach with high pressing not an option?
I would not be shocked, if we would stick to the back four, in a common 4-2-3-1. Dardai often tries to act and not only react against strong opponents. He wants to see football, also against the big teams! We’ll see!
What’s the final result on Wednesday and which goals does your club try to achieve in the short and long term?
If we can take home a point, I would be very happy. You cannot expect much more coming up against this Bayern team. As long as we don’t get blown out of the stadium, we can be content.
Dardai and Preetz want to develop the team and the club step by step. Each year a new component is added, to the playing style and to the roster. In the long-term Hertha wants to be among the Top 8 Bundesliga teams, at least not losing touch to these eight and to also improve the popularity of the club. Hertha BSC has to get and wants to have a stronger presence in the city and beyond. The club is working on a clear philosophy and is experimenting a lot in that direction (current slogan: “We try. We fail. We win.”).