Football: Hertha in turmoil after Klinsmann's surprise departure

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann before a match between Schalke 04 and Hertha BSC in Veltins-Arena, Germany, on Feb 4, 2020. He left Hertha Berlin after only eight weeks in charge.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann before a match between Schalke 04 and Hertha BSC in Veltins-Arena, Germany, on Feb 4, 2020. He left Hertha Berlin after only eight weeks in charge.PHOTO: REUTERS

BERLIN (REUTERS) - Hertha Berlin have little time to pick up the pieces of their failed collaboration with coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who has left the club after only eight weeks in charge, if they are to win their fight to avoid relegation.

The Berliners sit 14th in the Bundesliga table, six points above the relegation play-off spot, despite having pumped more than €70 million (S$105.7 million) into transfers over the winter period as requested by Klinsmann.

The former United States and Germany coach arrived in late November ready to lead a "big club project" and saying Berlin deserved a big team like other major European cities.

He pledged to turn Hertha from a relegation-threatened club to a contender for European spots within two seasons, with the backing of Hertha's major investor Lars Windhorst.

But on Tuesday (Feb 11), his project crashed before it had even taken flight.

Klinsmann claimed there was a lack of trust from the bosses and wanted more control taken away from sports director Michael Preetz and given to him.

Windhorst, who has pledged a total of more than €200 million after coming in as an investor last year, said on Thursday he regretted Klinsmann's decision.

He called the manner of his departure "unacceptable", saying Klinsmann could no longer keep his seat on the club board.

"Unfortunately, the way he left is so unacceptable that a constructive collaboration with him in such a form cannot continue," Windhorst told a news conference. It is regrettable to have left so abruptly but we have to live with it.

" This is not acceptable. Maybe you can do it as a teenager but in the business world among adults, such things should not happen."

Klinsmann's decision will no doubt hurt his own reputation in the Bundesliga, given that his only other league experience was a failed brief spell at Bayern Munich more than a decade ago. But it also leaves Hertha with a black eye and in complete turmoil.

Players said they were stunned and confused by the decision but they must now recover in time for their trip to bottom club Paderborn on Saturday as they battle to avoid the drop and earn back the trust of their fans.

Hertha will have some help with the arrival this week of Brazilian forward Matheus Cunha - one of Klinsmann's winter transfers worth a reported €18 million - who had been busy with the Brazil Under-23 team for their Olympic qualifiers.

With only five goals in their last seven league games, Hertha need Cunha's goals badly.