Hamburg’s Bundesliga kickoff marred by investor’s public criticism | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 18.08.2017
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Hamburg’s Bundesliga kickoff marred by investor’s public criticism

New season, new trouble at HSV. Klaus-Michael Kühne, HSV’s biggest single shareholder, voiced his displeasure of decisions made by the club’s staff. His quotes are bound to shake the club.

As another Bundesliga season beckons, it's more of the same at the Volksparkstadion. Hamburg, one of Germany's biggest clubs and former European champions, are rather familiar with instability. The club was involved in relegation battles in four of the past six seasons, and have seen no less than six coaching changes within the past five seasons.

Former Eintracht Frankfurt director Heribert Bruchhagen was brought with a view of steadying the ship, and with Markus Gisdol leading an impressive survival campaign last term, earning hims a contract extension, some fans thought HSV are on the up, leaving their troubled past both on and off the pitch behind.

Shareholder Kühne not pleased

It only took one match for them to be proven wrong. Hamburg were knocked out of the DFB Pokal by third league club Osnabrück despite playing against 10 men for 72 minutes. Pressure continued to mount before the first Bundesliga matchday as investor Klaus-Michael Kühne made sure his negative views of the club's decisions were heard.

Mannschaft des HSV im Trainingslager (picture-alliance/dpa/I. Wagner)

Hamburg's sporting director Jens Todt and CEO Heribert Bruchhagen

Within the space of a week, Kühne, who owns 17 percent of HSV, publicly criticized coach Markus Gisdol, sporting director Jens Todt and the club's management. According to Kühne, Gisdol "has to do more in order to shape HSV into a team", while Todt "needs to be more decisive." In another interview with "Spiegel", Kühne said he thinks that Todt "works hard, but does not have much experience." Todt chose to stay diplomatic, saying discussions with Kühne remained open and constructive.

In the same Spiegel interview, the HSV investor criticized the club's hierarchy for buying striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga for 8.5 million euros ($9.9 million), labeling the deal as "harakiri" and calling Lasogga "the flop of the century." 

As for the club's general management, Kühne believes "there's a significant difference between how I think the club should be run and how it actually is." The club's failure to extend Nicolai Müller's contract appears one of the triggers to Kühne's recent public rant.

Kühne's remarks came just weeks after sporting director Todt said he felt the HSV squad was going into the season with high spirits, with "no pressure" on the team. With coach Markus Gisdol saying that last season was "unbearable" at times due to pressure, the new season looks set to be another testing time for the coach and the club.

Bundesliga 34.Spieltag - Hamburger SV vs VFL Wolfsburg - HSV Klassenerhalt (picture alliance/GES/Marvin Ibo G.)

Hamburg coach Markus Gisdol

Divided opinions

Kühne's outburst has started a public debate as to whether the investor-turned-shareholder is welcome at the club. "Without Kühne, HSV will not exist. With him we'll get relegated,” a HSV fan tweeted.

Former Schalke player Hans Sarpei, a popular figure on social media, went one step further - posting an open letter to the billionaire on his Facebook page. "It's a disgrace, criticizing the coach and the management before the season even starts... HSV will be better off without you,” wrote the former Ghana international. The post was shared more than 200 times, with some fans voicing their opposition to it.

Hamburg will face Augsburg at home in the first matchday of the Bundesliga on Saturday. No win there, and the club could face another uphill battle this season. Although, that's hardly surprising news in Hamburg these days.

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