Feature: Hamburger SV is living on borrowed time

Source: Xinhua| 2018-03-01 22:17:43|Editor: Yurou
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By Oliver Trust

BERLIN, March 1 (Xinhua) -- The most famous clock in German football was originally installed to express pride. Its digital display shows 54 years, 189 days, followed by the hours, minutes and seconds. The clock stands for the unique story of a once famous football club that is the only Bundesliga club never to have been relegated.

Today, the clock's owner is placed in an absurd situation as the club's first ever relegation seems inevitable.

The clock's mystical aura has turned into something that is described as a state of frustration, fatalism and a broad sense of anger. Time is running out for the winner of the 1976/77 European Cup Winners' Cup and the 1982/83 European Cup. Ahead of their vital home game against fellow strugglers FSV Mainz this Saturday, Hamburger Sports Verein comes across as a falling star.

The Nuremberg-based football magazine Kicker predicts there will be no great escape with only 10 games remaining as the club is already eight points adrift off safety. Only the highly optimistic believe they can survive.

The mission seems to be doomed to fail as the key figures behind the scenes have no future but are still expected to make the impossible possible. Coach Bernd Hollerbach, CEO Heribert Bruchhagen, and sports director Jens Todt will soon get the sack, Kicker reports.

Hamburg's new president Bernd Hoffmann has already initiated measures to renew the club's management but at the same time has to face a joyless professional life.

For years now, the club has hired and fired coaches and general managers as if it was its main purpose in life. The squad is said to lack quality and balance after too many cooks have spoiled the broth over the years. Many say the club has failed to install a management structure capable of addressing modern football challenges.

While local newspapers report that supporters are losing faith and optimism, thousands of ultra-fans are issuing threats and reacting violently. "Before the clock has run out we will chase the players through the city" was one of the unpleasant banners shown in the stadium. The setting off of unauthorized flares has increased the tension around the club.

Now the club has decided to only provide non-alcoholic beer for the Mainz game and the authorities and police have upgraded the game to a high-risk match. More police than usual will be on duty this weekend after Hamburg fans caused three interruptions to the crucial derby away to Werder Bremen by throwing flares onto the pitch.

After the 1-0 loss against their rivals and fellow relegation prospects, the duel against Mainz could be the club's final chance.

Former Hamburg professional and current head coach Hollerbach hasn't been able to turn fortunes around with only two draws and three defeats in five games. Rumors indicating he may get sacked are causing additional tension.

After the club survived several difficult years, always narrowly escaping relegation, things look worse than ever this time. Having scored only 18 goals in 24 games, Hamburg seems to have reached rock bottom.

To play his last card, Hollerbach has taken his players off to a training camp to get everyone in the right frame of mind for the upcoming game. He is repeatedly telling fans and the media alike that he is far from giving up, but for many, his statements ring hollow.

While the squad seems to be falling apart with several players already in negotiations with other clubs, fans are trying to figure out if getting relegated to the second division is not a blessing in disguise as it could mean a new beginning.

Club officials are assuring fans that the club won't get into trouble applying for a new license for next season despite its dependency on the support of investor and shareholder Klaus-Michael Kuehne who owns 20 percent of the club. Fans would love to believe it, but doubts remain.