1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Revolution in Hamburg

May 23, 2011

New Hamburg Sporting Director Frank Arnesen Hamburg plans to revamp his squad with an emphasis on youth in a bid for success after watching Dortmund sweep to the title with a team full of youngsters.

Hamburg Sporting Director Frank Arnesen
HSV's new sporting director has a big job ahead of himImage: picture-alliance/dpa

There's a famous anecdote in English soccer that relates to the wisdom of putting one's faith in youth. Liverpool defender turned BBC pundit Alan Hansen was asked back at the start of the 1995 Premiership season what he thought about Manchester United's chances of success with a team full of youth team graduates: "You'll never win anything with kids," he said.

That Man United team, which included the fresh-faced talents of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and the Neville brothers among others, went on to win the Premiership and FA Cup double that season, leaving Hansen with a hefty portion of egg on his face.

It seems that after Borussia Dortmund won the Bundesliga with a team whose average age is 22, Hamburger Sport-Verein (HSV) are preparing their own youthful revolution in an attempt to consign the last few seasons of mediocrity to the waste basket of history.

Interim-cum-permanent coach Michael Oenning is being joined by Frank Arnesen, who left Chelsea FC to take the sporting director's job in the German port city. The Dane began work on May 23, and what lies before him is a major rebuilding program which should see a host of established stars sold to make way for an influx of youthful, hungry replacements.

Arsenal's Nicklas Bendtner
Bendtner denies a move but could still come to HamburgImage: AP

"Hamburg's problem is that they've been badly run for years," Bundesliga analyst Paul Chapman said.

The club wants to trim its budget next season from 47 to 37 million euros, said Chapman, so a cull is on the cards.

"Obviously the club will save a lot of money on Ruud Van Nistelrooy's wages as he leaves the club next month, Piotr Trochowski is off to Seville, and Guy Demel, Joris Mathijsen, Eljero Elia and Paolo Guerrero are all apparently available at the right price."

Rumors circulating

While Hamburg's hierarchy are keeping their cards very close to their chests until the summer transfer window opens, the club's name is mentioned in a number of the pre-window rumors currently circulating as the season comes to a close.

Arsenal's Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner is allegedly on HSV's radar and at 23, with a proven goal-scoring record in the Premiership, the Dane would fit into the age bracket Hamburg are aiming for. The player himself has expressed that he's set his sights a bit higher – he's said he'd like to go to Bayern Munich or Barcelona, but Hamburg are probably more the big Dane's speed.

Big-money buys will be few, Arnesen told kicker in a recent interview, so buying or loaning out young prospects - as well as nurturing the crop they already have - will have to be the number one priority.

"Youngsters like Heung-Min Son would appear to be the future of the club but it's expected that with all his Premier League contacts, Arnesen might persuade one or two talented younger players to leave England and give it a go in the Bundesliga," Chapman said.

Chelsea's 19-year-old Dutch youth international defender Jeffrey Bruma is apparently at the top of Hamburg’s list, followed by his Oranje teammate Patrick van Aanholt (20) and Gael Kakuta (19) of France.

Mladen Petric
HSV hope that Mladen Petric will stay to lead the lineImage: dapd

"Hamburg need a concept which would advance the integration of some of their own young players," Jonas Keinert, a Bundesliga correspondent for the Rhein-Neckar Zeitung daily, told Deutsche Welle.

"But a club like HSV always needs strong foreign players too," he added. "Just as Bayern Munich developed Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Müller and Badstuber, they also brought in Robben, Ribery, Olic and others. A team can never be competitive in a title race with eleven talented young guys from one town."

Strength in youth and experience from within

Hamburg also plan to bring talented youth into the first team without spending a penny by recalling three players who have been out on loan. Midfielder Tolgay Arslan might well have been the best player in Alemannia Aachen's second division campaign this season, Marcus Berg scored eight goals at PSV Eindhoven, and while goalkeeper Wolfgang Hesl didn't see any action at SV Ried in Austria, he will be slotted in as Hamburg's number two going into the season.

Although Hamburg's transfer policy will focus on youth, the club intends to keep a core of experienced players to steer the new team through the choppy waters of the Bundesliga.

"Some of the older, more experienced players that Hamburg will rely on to guide the younger guys in the right direction are David Jarolim, Mladen Petric and Marcell Jansen," Mark Farrant, the Hamburg correspondent for the Bundesliga Offside, told Deutsche Welle. "These players all have great attitudes towards the club and are potential leaders."

"Although not as old, Hamburg also have plenty of experience in Heiko Westermann, Dennis Aogo, and Gojko Kacar - all top players who have seen lots of action in the Bundesliga, and have international experience as well. Also, the 31-year-old Jaroslav Drobny should prove to be a worthy successor to Frank Rost in goal."

Bid to end barren streak

Jerome Boateng (l) and Jonathan Pitroipa taste defeat
Hamburg hope to put the years of failure behind themImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

Hamburg have consistently under-performed over the past decade. The Bundesliga championship shield hasn't had HSV's name etched on it in almost 30 years, and it's been 24 years since they last hoisted the German Cup.

Hamburg supporters will be hoping that the HSV revolution will bear as spectacular a fruit as that which was plucked in Dortmund, but that could be a tall order.

"I think it will take some time for Hamburg to find and develop enough young talent to be able to have the same kind of success as Dortmund this year," Farrant concluded. "However, they do have some good players to build around, and Michael Oenning and Frank Arnesen seem committed to rebuilding the team to achieve that success."

"If the players can buy into the system that Oenning will implement, as well as stay healthy, I think we will see a Hamburg team that will consistently play at a top level again in the next two to three years."

Author: Nick Amies

Editor: Matt Hermann