Hertha Berlin’s first win of the current calendar year was only minutes away on Saturday, so it was already clear that there had been another result. Hertha BSC has a new cult figure: Mark Fotheringham, assistant coach and representative of Felix Magath on Saturday due to corona. A working-class boy in Scotland, the 38-year-old is clearly part of a football culture that doesn’t stop at the academic intricacies of the game. Tactic? Chain of three, four, five? 4-1-4-1 system? Fotheringham didn’t want to talk about it. Neither before the match nor after the match.
“Tactics and such, I’m not interested in any of that. Sorry,” said the Scot. Work, presence, passion, courage, intensity, joy: these were the buzzwords he wore these days. “Put the parking brake down!” he yelled. His new team solved them—in the absence of the “boss,” as Fotheringham puts it when he speaks of Magath. Because the boss could only examine from the hotel, and probably enjoy, how Hertha left 17th place in the table and thus a direct relegation spot and moved up to the relegation spot.
Fotheringham enthusiastically trained all of the Herthaners, even the larger-than-life stuffed mascot.
Fifteen minutes before the end of the game, you could see what that can do for people who feel connected to Hertha. And listen. Notice why the east corner sector, where the ultras usually romp, was flooded. In the end, he was always symbolically orphaned, as a sign that he was not Everyone allowed to enter the stadium. After 3-0, however, hundreds ran to the ultras block and sang with the rest of the stadium the same song they had sung against Frankfurt two weeks ago: “Oh, how nice is that.” With a difference.
What was scathing mockery at 1:4 now sounded like reconciliation, joy, and pride. Learn: Sound makes music. And that has not only changed in the ranks of Hertha. But also on the field. Through Fotheringham, who is the voice of the champions on the training ground and constantly coached everyone against Hoffenheim. Even the larger than life stuffed pet named Herthinho. “The guy is amazing,” said Niklas Stark of Fotheringham.
Magath and Fotheringham, who have known each other for days at English professional club Fulham, inherited Tayfun Korkut, who was out on Sunday. “A shocking role in the Bundesliga” fell to the two, he wrote The courier service, a newspaper distributed in Fotheringham’s hometown of Dundee. What the two noticed these days: that Korkut had left a team that was in top form after all. So the basics were there to perform as Hertha did against Hoffenheim on Saturday: full of energy. And compact.
Hoffenheim made it clear that they were trying to play a more cultivated game. But every possession of the ball by the guests eventually led to a melee, with the Berliners often having the advantage. The first shots of the game were signed by Niklas Stark (minute 5), Marko Richter (8th), Ishak Belfodil (18th) and Maxi Mittelstädt (20th). Only then did the Berliners show a hint of vulnerability.
As with a long pass from Kevin Akpoguma to Jacob Bruun Larsen, who had slipped behind Berlin’s last line of defence, but then buckled. “Our chain slept a little bit there,” Fotheringham said. What would have been a reason to have a destabilizing effect a few days ago showed no lasting effects this time. On the contrary: in the 39th minute, Hertha scored the lead, with a standard strike that felt like the first since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Plattenhardt crossed into the penalty area, Niklas Stark completed the header to make it 1-0 at half-time.
There are scenes of fraternization in front of the train: between grateful Hertha fans and Scotsmen in kilts
Magath joined during the break. Through Facetime and presumably over freshly brewed tea. Fotheringham marveled at the amazing things that can now be done with modern technology. He rejected any information about the content of the things Magath said, referring to a vow of silence that applies in his home country. “In Scotland we always say: ‘What’s said in the dressing room, stays in the dressing room.'” Marco Richter sniffed: “Halftime was quiet. He knocked Us down and knew exactly what he was saying. He pushed Us.” Whichever path he took, he showed results.
Because in the second half, Hoffenheim tried to pull the static out of the game. Alone: Even after a free kick by national player David Raum, which was by no means harmless, Hertha remained a team that, unlike in recent months, did not look for alibis, but rather in every situation after the ball. , the small and poisonous Argentine Santi Ascacíbar and – listen and be surprised – his colleague in the French midfield Lucas Tousart.
They symbolized that Hertha were not losing an inch of ground and showed a determination that had been missing for a long time. But what was even more scandalous was that goals two and three came from the standards: at 2-0, Plattenhardt hit the ball over Marc-Oliver Kempf, who headed Belfodil. The former Hoffenheim player pushed the ball over the line (63′). Captain Dedryck Boyata headed in the third goal; this time it was Tousart who took the ball towards the goal (74′).
Hoffenheim was finally beaten because Hertha, who were also new, stayed focused for 90 minutes. That was one side. The other is that something akin to hope has returned to Berlin’s West End, and new friendships have been formed. A couple of Scots had – in kilts! – went to the Olympic Stadium and were hugged by Hertha fans in front of the S-Bahn. Out of gratitude. “I’m very proud of the boys,” said Fotheringham, assuring that the team had more to offer. It is said that a short training camp will be held soon. Magath may be in quarantine. But there is no doubt: he is back. Triumphant for now.