Hamburg midfield powerhouse,Tolgay Arslan believes that the Bundesliga strugglers have turned over a new leaf following the arrival of Josef Zinnbauer.
The Red Shorts have spent the past year in serious decline, and nearly suffered their first relegation from the Bundesliga last season, only to survive via a tense play-off fixture against second division side Greuther Fϋrth.
Having escaped a very costly and thoroughly embarrassing relegation, the German giants have started their 52nd consecutive Bundesliga season on the backfoot and failed to score a single goal in their opening three fixtures.
Despite saving Hamburg’s blushes in May after a carousel of managers placed the north German club in league jeopardy, Mirko Slomka was sacked following a 2-0 defeat against rivals, Hannover on 14th September.
Instead of investing in a respectable household name, chairman Carl-Edgar Jarchow and the rest of the Hamburg board decided to give the demanding job with a life expectancy of just under a year to U17 manager, Josef Zinnbauer.
Since taking over from Slomka, Zinnbauer has already achieved the most serious goal of restoring confidence and motivation levels within the squad, something which has been missing from the club for the past year.
With this achieved, the club have taken baby-steps over the past month to get their season back on track, and produced one of the biggest shocks of the campaign so far, as they recorded their first win in seven away to fellow struggler's, Borussia Dortmund.
Pierre-Emile Lasogga’s 35th minute winner has given the Imtech Arena outfit something to build upon, with midfielder, Tolgay Arslan believing that the world are seeing a new team in comparison to the one that has been at the centre of recent controversy and jokes.
The 24-year-old told German newspaper Bild: “In the past four games one can see that that there has been a strong positive trend.
“You can see a different team on the pitch now. A force with real team spirit. We are more compact. Our trainer has been able to help us with this.”
Although the former Germany U21 international believes that confidence has a lot to do with the club’s slight change in form this season, Arslan feels that Zinnbauer’s tactics have helped Hamburg to look more dangerous and tougher to play against.
The Paderborn midfielder went on to say: “There are different improvements. For example, tactical things. In the past we never trained as intensively, now we are being pressed sometimes beyond our limits.
"He gives us many solutions. But we also have a lot of freedom on the pitch. We all believe in the plans of our trainer.”
Although, it is all very well for Arslan to say these things with several players having not experienced success for months at a time, Hamburg are still very much a club in development, and are far from surviving the next seven months unscathed.
The Hamburg job in recent years has become almost impossible to hold down for a prolonged amount of time, with Zinnbauer being the club’s seventh manager in just over three years.
However, the robust midfielder feels that Hamburg can only go from strength to strength and already look better after four games under the careful supervision of the 44 year old manager, then they did for the whole of previous campaign.
Talking about the clubs future, Arslan went on to say: “This time it won’t end up the same way as it did in the previous season. We have gotten a bit better from game to game. We are focussed on the plan ahead.”
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