Each major city is laced with enough significant sites, places of interest and cultural history to confirm its place within the history of the respected country for generation after generation.

Take Hamburg for example, a city which has long been considered Germany’s biggest and most successful powerhouse in terms of rebuilding itself after the Second World War as an example of German economic rival.

The city was also made famous for its football team, Hamburger SV, who were able to dominate football in the late 1970s and 1980s under the careful guidance of arguably the best coach in the history of football, Ernst Happel, who took them to the centre of world football.

Thirty years on the club are in serious danger of being relegated for the first time since the formation of the Bundesliga in 1963, under the guidance of one of the most inconsistent managers in Europe, Bert Van Marwijk.

For the past few seasons it has become obvious that Hamburg are struggling to keep their momentum going in the Bundesliga, with the Dinosaur having only once been able to secure a top five finish in the last seven years.

The fact that HSV have only managed on average to secure an 11th place finish at the end of each campaign prompted the hierarchy to take a big gamble on spending their way out of mid-table stagnation in order to reach the same heights of the clubs glory days.

As a result the Imtech Arena outfit who spent well over €40 million on players which the club argued were just as good as any of the other top players in the Bundesliga, have been left with bellow par performers on substantial wages.

The fact that Hamburg currently occupy 16th place in the Bundesliga, four points adrift from the bottom of the table, doesn't only suggest that the club are lacking in disposable quality across the park, but highlights problems in the hierarchy and structure of the club.

Hamburg’s 3-0 defeat at home against Schalke on Matchday 18 was the club's tenth defeat in 18 fixtures so far this season, whilst also being the eighth time that Van Marwijk’s side have conceded three goals or more.

Despite scoring the most goals out of all the clubs in the bottom six of the table, HSV have let in more at this juncture than in any first season since the 1987/1988 campaign.

This defeat has also enabled the German media to ridicule and dissect the majority of the team who not only were responsible for a lacklustre performance, but also in refusing to speak to each other at the end of the game.

The majority of the media were quick to point the flaws in Hamburg’s porous defence by suggesting that goalkeeper Rene Adler has become more of a spectator of late, whilst the back four consisting the likes of Heiko Westermann, Johan Djourou and Jonathan Tah are incapable of playing in the top flight.

Whilst Bild.de suggested that the club were missing a natural born leader on the night with Netherlands international Rafael Van der Vaart showing a complete lack of Dutch courage.

Unlike similar sized clubs in terms of size and popularity such as Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke, HSV are short of players which are capable of winning a game on their own.

Over the past few years the 2010 Europa League semi-finalists have struggled to bring the right players into the clubs with former manager Torsten Fink being largely guilty of inexperience in the transfer market and often panic bought.

The acquisitions of striker Jacques Zoua as well as midfielders Petr Jiracek and Milan Badelj on high wages are prime examples of flops who are more than a burden rather than an asset to a cash strapped club.

However, it is obvious to suggest that the media are just accessing the top of the ice berg without delving into the more sensitive reasons for HSV’s fight against relegation.

Economically, Hamburg have been in a bad state for a long time with debts approaching €100 million, a knock-on factor with the club unable to attract the correct funds needed to sustain the team through favourable sponsorship and tournament capital.

It was hoped that the acquisition of the former disgraced Netherlands manager, Van Marwijk would enable the club to finish in a favourable position whilst also using his knowledge and fear factor to purchase the right players whilst also restoring order to a Laissez-faire set-up.

However, like many high-stake gambles it is becoming obvious that the former Borussia Dortmund manager is not the right man for the job.

It has been reported that his hands-on approach and archaic training methods has increased anxiety among the squad, whilst his aggressive tone with the German media has made him vulnerable to huge amounts of ridicule.

The fact that the 61-year-old complained about his team’s winter-break tour of Indonesia has upset the board, but at least he is concerned about the possibility of relegation.

And the fact that he has also been busy in the transfer window by bringing in Benfica’s Ola John and Juventus midfielder Ouasim Bouy, coincidently two Dutch nationals suggests that Van Marwijk could his knowledge of the transfer window to bring in the right players to provide short-term relief.

As the former manager of the Oranje he could use his rich array of contacts to bring in a number of Dutch internationals such as Barcelona’s Ibrahim Afellay and Everton’s Johnny Heitinga on loan to the club, who themselves are looking to prove themselves ahead of the World Cup.

However, it seems that time and money are running against this possibility, especially with the Dinosaurs eager to bank-role the clubs new initiative “HSV plus” which would turn the club into a stock market, in an attempt to restore lost funds.

Although this seems unlikely, and I would put money on Hamburg being bankrupt and lying in the lower reaches of the second Bundesliga soon before this initiative becomes a reality.

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Topics:
Bundesliga
Football
Rafael Van der Vaart