There were scenes of jubilation around the Trolli Arena as Hamburg retained their Bundesliga status after surviving their relegation play-off against SpVgg Greuther Fürth.
For the Fürth fans it may feel like bitter disappointment but they've had a successful campaign as they were close to returning to the top flight after a one year absence. For Mirko Slomka's side, this may be a battle won, but for a city of its size, it has been a very frustrating campaign.
4,000 Hamburg fans travelled to Fürth to watch their team play out a 1-1 draw which was enough to secure their place in the Bundesliga as they won on away goals. They took the lead after 14 minutes with a powerful header from Pierre-Michel Lasogga which proceeded a wave of attacks.
But following this, the hosts bombarded the visitors with shots and eventually equalised before the hour mark. Thanks to a couple of stunning saves from Jaroslav Drobny, which included a point-blank header, Hamburg were lucky to stay level and hold out for the draw.
"He's certainly one of the play-off's big winners,” he acknowledged. Adding to this, he said that the team "can’t afford to stumble blindly into next season. We're going to need new faces at the club."
Hamburg lost the most amount of games this year and conceded the highest total of goals. This includes a 5-1 defeat to Hoffenheim and a 6-2 thrashing away at Borussia Dortmund. They lost their last five games of the season and were lucky to avoid the automatic drop zone as they finished just one point above FC Nürnberg who went down with Eintracht Braunschweig.
Germany's oldest club side have had three coaches this season after parting with Thorsten Fink in September after two years in charge, who was then followed by Bert van Marwijk but he was sacked in February after an eighth straight defeat. Slomka came in ahead of the desired, Felix Magath, but luckily steered them away from danger. What is concerning is that this is the club’s 11th manager in 10 years.
Unlike a lot of top sides, Hamburg have struggled to find stability and have been bouncing up and down the table for the past decade having achieved four top four finishes however have also finished in the bottom 10 on the same number of occasions.
A major problem has been their ability to hold on to their top players. Although they encouraged Rafael Van der Vaart to return, the club has lost notable names over the years including Nigel de Jong, Vincent Kompany and Daniel Van Buyten.
Their top goal scorer, Lasogga, with 13 goals, is also set to leave as he returns to his parent club, Hertha Berlin, as his loan spell comes to a close. The Germany under-21 International has made a massive impact and would have enjoyed the first team experience and he will dent the re-building process at the Imtech Arena.
“Unfortunately it's not down to us and Hertha are going to want him back,” Slomka conceded. “We'll try and hold onto him, all the same.”
Another of Hamburg’s top player’s from this season, Hakan Calhanoglu, has been linked with a move to Bayer Leverkusen and losing him would be massive blow also.
Expectation will be limited for next season as Slomka and co return to work as they look to re-build a club who were once dominating German football just over thirty years ago. Certainly, a top ten finish is a must for the 45 year old coach if he is to keep the faithful of the City on his side.
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