Let’s get this off to a start by saying that I have been exceptionally lazy at writing stuff on here since the end of the Hinrunde, I have already made a promise to myself that next season, I will resume doing weekly updates. Whether or not that comes to fruition remains to be seen and whether or not anyone other than myself actually cares, is probably already very clear. Anyway, we are now approaching the end of the season and the start of World Cup fever is well and truly setting in, there are still a few more games to be played in the lower echelons of the Berlin pyramid but with regard to the big two, their seasons reached a rather tired climax over the weekend. Neither Hertha BSC or 1.FC Union will be massively upset with their league finishes but there is no doubt that there is massive need for improvement from both clubs if they are going to build on the excellent foundations that they already have in place. First off, here is a summary of the season just gone for the Old Lady from the West.
For Hertha BSC, the season began in emphatic fashion. Drunk on promotion euphoria and the renewed sense of optimism and excitement that comes with it, the Alte Dame got off to a flying start to the campaign, recording 7 points from their first 3 games and chalking up some impressive results and performances in the process, the crowning moment being a thumping 6 – 1 annihilation of Eintracht Frankfurt on the opening day of the season. Fantastic performances against the likes of Bayern Muenchen and Bayer Leverkusen saw them narrowly (and in the case of the former, undeservedly) defeated. As well as they started, a lack of consistency was the biggest issue for the Herthaner this season. Whereas one week they were able to travel to Dortmund and take 3 points against the eventual 2nd placed side, the next they would bumble around, giving the ball away in the middle of the park, not creating anything and eventually getting stuffed by the likes of eventually relegated 1.FC Nuernberg. Next season, reinforcements have to made in the attacking department, Saturdays game versus Borussia Dortmund saw Colombian World Cup representative and centre forward Adrian Ramos, don the famous blue and white stripes for the final time before making a big move across the country to the Westfalenstadion. His contribution has been of upmost importance to ensuring Hertha BSC’s Bundesliga status, scoring 16 and setting up 9 of the teams 42 goal tally for the season. There is not a doubt about it; this is one hell of a big gap to fill next term and one that can’t be filled with inexperience. It is also of great concern that the other strikers on the books have only mustered 14 goals between the 3 of them in the entire campaign which points to either a system built around Ramos or a massive lack in depth, evidence points to there being a very strong case for both arguments. Further to the worrying lack of goals in a Ramos-less Hertha side, they are also in dire need of some creativity in the Midfield. Whereas last season, they were able to rely on the fan favourite and all-round good guy, Ronny, to create something out of nothing, set up a lot of goals and also record top scorer status from Midfield. There is no doubt about it but this year, he has really struggled to step up to the plate and replicate the exceptional 2.Bundesliga campaign in the top flight. He has only scored 4 times and set up 4 goals which is of great concern to the Hertha faithful and does raise question marks over whether or not he is fit enough, consistent enough or maybe even good enough to perform at the highest level and as to where they are going to find somebody to play the role of last seasons Ronny.
All in all, I think the season for Hertha can be summed up very simply. It’s been inconsistent and frustrating; for every emphatic 6-1 destruction of a side, there is a drab 0-0 with a relegation struggler to provide some balance, for every moral-boosting and high quality away victory against a Champions League finalist, there is a disheartening and flat loss to a far lesser side just around the corner and for every dogged, hard-working and undeserved loss to the eventual league winners, there is an uninterested, demotivating and down-right boring performance against another of the sides who seemingly seem to serve that type of dross up on a regular basis. I think this inconsistency is reflected in their 12th place finish, they spent the whole season always looking slightly too good to be sucked in to yet another unthinkable relegation battle but never good enough to actually mount any form of assault on the Europa League spots that were not too much of an unrealistic goal considering some of the players they have and the encouraging start to the campaign. They need to go away this summer and reflect upon some of the season’s positive moments and take what they can from these sparkles of hope, whilst at the same time creating a culture of consistency and ensuring that they can take points in some of the games against the leagues lesser sides. If they can focus on this and reinforce the squad in the right areas, they stand a chance of improving on this term but it must be noted by Lukuhay and the Ostkurve that a combination of a failure to address the very obvious issues and a poor transfer window, could see Hertha embroiled in yet another fight for top flight survival.
League Position – 12th
Player of the Season – Adrian Ramos – dynamic, cultured and a clinical finisher. It will be interesting to see how he fares in a side in which he is not the only creator and goal scorer.
Average Home Attendance: 51,889 – massively skewed by the tendency for a big away following in the Hauptstadt but for a mid-table side, impressive nonetheless.
Atmosphere: A stark contrast to the depressing, cold soulless bowl I was used to visiting in the 2.Bundesliga. Higher attendances, bigger away followings and some occasional moments of success meant that this time out, the efforts of the Ostkurve filled the vast expanses of the Olympiastadion
Highlight of the Season: Going to Borussia Dortmund and winning 2-1. Only 3 other teams can claim to have achieved that this year and that is something the Herthaner can be proud of.