Talk about a bombshell. Three days before Hamburg’s crucial Europa League semi-final against Fulham, with the aggregate score at 0-0, the club have sacked their coach Bruno Labbadia. This firing followed Hamburg’s heavy 5-1 defeat to Hoffenheim, and a string of very disappointing results in the Bundesliga, which left the club at 7th place, with little chance of qualifying for Europe directly. Their only hope now is to actually win the Europa Cup so they can compete for it next year as well, something they would be favorites for should they reach the final, which will be played at their own stadium.
To sack your coach in the middle of a semi-final tie is by all means a desperate measure, however, and Hamburg chairman Bernd Hoffmann was the first to admit that. In an interview to the press, he claimed this measure was taken to ensure the team retain a chance of beating Fulham. Whatever one thinks of Labbadia’s coaching abilites, however, I can’t imagine how the chairman or anyone else believes that such a change only a few days from the game can have a hugely positive effect. Even if they somehow manage to get a new manager before Thursday, there is no one in the world that can drastically improve a team in so short a period.
The tie is still finely balanced at 50/50, so maybe Mr. Hoffmann believes the slightest of tweaks can make the difference. It’s possible, so lets see if this master plan of his works out when it‘s kickoff-time.