Greetings to the informal center of power – sport
Pellegrino Matarazzo’s biggest fan sat in the better places in the main stand in Hoffenheim’s 3-1 win against Hertha BSC: Alexander Rosen, manager of TSG for almost ten years, had even more reasons than usual in the explosive relegation duel with the Berliners hoping for a win after difficult weeks. Because if Matarazzo, who was only committed at the beginning of February, had to be fired as a zero-point coach, he himself would have been massively damaged. After all, it was Rosen who pushed through the former Stuttgart coach against considerable internal resistance as André Breitenreiter’s successor. Matarazzo, who was chosen as the savior, then lost five games in a row to make his debut. But then came Hertha, who proved more convincingly than ever on Saturday why they are the weakest away team this league season.
It should therefore not have taken long for Rosen to feel the greatest tension. After all, during the 90 minutes it was as TSG midfielder Christoph Baumgartner later claimed: “I don’t think anyone in the stadium had the feeling that Hertha was winning today.” And so that everyone can now really understand how the Hoffenheim team feels about their coach, Baumgartner followed up with clear sentences: “The Matarazzo-out issue gave us another push. No player would have thought it okay if he had to go . He’s doing sensationally well.”
This of course leads to the question of whose instigation the dismissal of Matarazzo, which has been in the air as a scenario for days, would have taken place. The players step into the breach for him without being asked. Sports director Rosen, who bravely and untruthfully claimed after the win that “there was no ultimatum”, is convinced of Matarzzo – and yet the coach would have been released in the event of another defeat. Because the former start-up club Hoffenheim still has an official organization chart that clearly assigns responsibilities in the sporting and economic areas. And there is another center of power – an informal one.
The advisor Wittmann, who is a friend of Dietmar Hopp, is said to have had a different trainer recommendation.
The table football had reported shortly before the Hertha game that the player’s agent Roger Wittmann (agency “Rogon”), whom club patron Dietmar Hopp has called a “friend” for many years, as the successor to the released rider, the former coach of the neighboring club SV Sandhausen, Kenan Kocak, recommended – not Matarazzo. The demands of the south curve that have been articulated for weeks, the Hoffenheimer deep state illuminate, these reports should have given new food. On Saturday, TSG fans again unfurled a banner with the demand: “Disempower Wittmann in the club”.
The fact that the player-coach relationship is intact was not only evident to the spectators at the 3-1 result: When Andrej Kramaric, who had laid the foundation with two converted penalties, was substituted, the Croatian clapped along himself the trainer – although he no longer has a regular place under him. However, Matarazzo had also flattered Kramaric before the game by attesting him the potential “to shoot us to stay up.” Insecure strikers like to hear something like that. It also cheers up a player who has been sent off if the coach doesn’t punish him with contempt in addition to the guilty conscience, but gives him a consoling pat. That’s exactly what Matarazzo did with striker Munas Dabbur, who saw the red card after barely two minutes of play and a nasty foul on Hertha’s Dodi Lukebakio (71st) – but by then it was already 3-0.
The lively Hoffenheim team didn’t make much of their clear superiority this time either. But when you think it’s no longer possible, a penalty comes from somewhere – the one that made it 1-0 (24th) was just as justified as the following penalty kick to make it 2-0 (38th). But it was only after Ihlas Bebou made it 3-0 (51′) that Matarazzo believed he could win and save his own job. While he was rather happy after the first two hits, relief broke out of him now. Dabbur’s dismissal only had an impact on the game insofar as Berlin’s helplessness became even more obvious.
In added time, Hertha managed to make it 3-1 through Stevan Juvetic. But after a performance in which their team wasn’t even remotely competitive after 25 minutes outnumbered, even the fans from Berlin felt sorry for them. Instead of a lecture, the players, who had crept towards the guest curve in anticipation of a verbal beating, were given minutes of encouragement. After everything that was (not) seen on Saturday, Hertha will also urgently need this in the coming weeks.