In the end, HSV gonna HSV. Despite backing him to the end, even an underwhelming draw against Karlsruhe that left their promotion hopes on the brink, Jonas Boldt and Michael Mutzel pulled the cord on Daniel Thioune’s time as Hamburger SV coach with barely more than a mention in an official statement.
It could have been different. When they let go of Dieter Hecking last year, replacing him with the younger and more progressive Thioune, it seemed to be an admission that the promotion-at-all-costs approach had failed, and they had to now build a project, even if it would take more than a season to finally get back to the Bundesliga.
Yet, after they flew out of the traps, as they had done in the previous two seasons, it finally seemed this would be the year they escaped the clutches of the 2. Bundesliga. Even if some knew better.
And soon enough, they reverted to type. The league’s big boys, charging out in front, only for their form to inexplicably collapse, and the mockery about their bottle in the latter stages of the season began all over again. (I am aware I am as guilty of this as everyone else!)
There are reasons to doubt whether it was ever a long-term project they were entrusting with Thioune, however. The signing of Simon Terodde was a clear statement of intent – his goals would guarantee promotion. For a while, it seemed to work, but his form dried up, and now he is Schalke-bound.
The spectre of Horst Hrubesch has hung over the club as well. A HSV legend as a player – winning three Bundesliga titles and the European Cup – he had returned to head up the academy after nearly two decades with the DFB. The feeling always was that if Thioune came under pressure, the calls for him to take over would become impossible to ignore. So it proved.
Moving to Hamburg was always going to be a risk for Thioune. He’d known nothing but success – at least relatively speaking – with Osnabrück, saving them from relegation to the Regionalliga, leading them to the 3. Liga title, then keeping them in the 2. Bundesliga, even with the sort of dip of form that has ended his Hamburg reign.
Moving from that onto a ‘big club’ like Hamburg is fraught with danger. There is no guarantee that one can transfer that success to the circus of one of Germany’s traditional clubs. Some succeed, more fail.
Perhaps the move came too soon for Thioune. Perhaps if he had been given time, he would succeed. Maybe next year, or the year after. But at a club that once measured every second it had been in the Bundesliga, that much time was never going to be granted to him.
With every season, the prospects of Bundesliga promotion get smaller and smaller. It has probably already gone for this season, and as many as three other traditional clubs could drop down from the top flight next season.
Hamburg risk becoming the next 1860 Munich or Kaiserslautern. The best way to avoid that would be to invest in the future, but that required patience. The word ‘patience’ simply does not exist in the HSV lexicon.