The departure of Thorsten Fink from his role as manager of Hamburg hardly came as a surprise after recent results; however his replacement, former Ghana international Otto Addo might be. The 38 year old has been promoted from the Under 19’s team to work alongside reserve team coach Rodolfo Cardoso on an interim basis. It is a bold move by the troubled German club who have faltered in recent years under Fink’s leadership. Many will be surprised that Fink lasted past the summer, given some of the results he oversaw last year including the humiliating 9-2 defeat to eventual champions Bayern Munich. This blog called out his inefficiencies shortly after that game including his lack of creative thinking around selection or tactical nous, which looks like it has now caught up with him. Now Addo must pick up the pieces of the jigsaw left by Fink and try to build a resemblance of the Hamburg teams of past.
Addo is no stranger to the club having finished his playing career with them back in 2008. The German born Ghanaian international midfielder played his entire career in Germany for a host of clubs including Hannover, Borussia Dortmund, Mainz and Hamburg. During his career, Addo gained a reputation as a tough tackling yet skillful midfielder, with his finest moment coming in 2002 when he helped Borussia Dortmund to the Bundesliga Championship. He had the potential to grow to greatness but injuries, in particular a reoccurring right knee problem, would ultimately hold the player back. During his spell with Dortmund, Addo tore his cruciate ligaments for the first time, something he would do unfortunately another two times. The injury would limit him to only 16 appearances for his adopted Ghana and eventually end his playing career.
But now Addo faces up to a new challenge, revitalizing the failing Hamburg brand and rescuing their season. Currently down in 15th place, with only four points after five games, Addo and Cardoso know that they will have to act fast to avoid putting Hamburg in an dangerous position. With a talented playing squad including dynamic Dutch midfielder and club captain Rafael Van Der Vaart, German internationalist Rene Adler and Marcell Jansen plus Czech star Petr Jiráček, the squad has enough about it to get themselves out of the whole they are in. One area of concern for the management duo will be upfront, with the current four strikers only scoring one goal between them in the last five (Jacques Zoua’s strike in the 4-0 win over relegation favourites Eintracht Braunschweiger). With the transfer window now shut, Cardoso and Addo may turn to their roots and promote a younger striker who is hungry to prove himself. Macedonia front man Valjmir Nafiu has already been brought into the first team but has yet to make his competitive debut whilst the likes of George Kelbel, Manuel Farrona-Pulido and Felix Brugmann wait in the wings. They may also choose to promote Danish sensation Christian Norgaard from the youth teams to add freshness to a somewhat stale midfield. Van Der Vaart has been the stand out so far with three goals in his past five games but he cannot do it alone, despite what Fink believed. Addo and Cardoso need to reignite the midfield and get the supply going again to the front men.
If Addo and Cardoso can turn Hamburg’s season around, they may stand a chance of winning the job fulltime, giving them both their first true taste of management at the highest level. Addo knows that Hamburg should be further up the league than where they are now so will be keen to help them climb even if it’s just for a short period of time.