BERLIN (AP) — Hertha Berlin fired coach Bruno Labbadia and general manager Michael Preetz on Sunday after a poor run of form left the big-spending club near the Bundesliga relegation zone.
Labbadia spent nine months in charge and becomes the fourth permanent Hertha coach to leave the post in the last two years after Saturday’s 4-1 defeat to Werder Bremen. Preetz departs after nearly 12 years as general manager, with former sporting director and former German national team player Arne Friedrich taking over his duties.
Hertha is 14th in the Bundesliga, two points above the relegation playoff place, and has won only one of its last eight league games.
“With 17 points from 18 games we are in a very serious situation,” chairman Carsten Schmidt said in a statement. “Therefore we have decided after due consideration to provide new impetus with a change of coach. We will clarify the successor for the coach position in the coming days.”
Schmidt told broadcaster Sky that candidates to succeed Labbadia include Pal Dardai, who coached Hertha from 2015 to 2019. “We have a clear plan,” Schmidt said. “We are not going into this task unprepared.”
Labbadia was initially appointed in April 2020 to steady the ship after a turbulent 10-game spell under former Germany and United States national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann, but failed to make progress toward the top half of the table in his second season.
The poor form comes despite Hertha being among Europe’s biggest spenders on transfers in 2020. It is particularly troubling for Hertha given the club’s stated aim of establishing itself as a Champions League regular and also the success of rival Union Berlin, eighth in the standings, on a much smaller budget.
With funding from investor Lars Windhorst, Hertha spent large sums last year on signing forwards Krzysztof Piatek from Milan and Matheus Cunha from Leipzig, defensive midfielder Lucas Tousart from Lyon and midfielder Matteo Guendouzi on loan from Arsenal. None has consistently hit strong form in Berlin.
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