Hertha BSC’s Quest for the Ideal Number Six

Hertha BSC’s Quest for the Ideal Number Six

The head coach of Hertha BSC, Pal Dardai, voiced his concern over a missing key player in his team during their recent defeat. The player to whom he referred has been a consistent presence on the Berlin training ground for the past week. Despite his current weight of 120 kilos (likely an exaggeration), Dardai believes this player has a significant role to play.

Interestingly, the player Dardai referred to is none other than himself, Pal Dardai.

Reflecting on the 1-2 defeat against Hamburger SV, Dardai stated his belief that if he had been in the six position during the game, the outcome could have been different. As a 48-year-old former player, Dardai believes his team needs someone like his younger self; a ball eater who isn’t afraid to throw himself into the game and make an impact. “That wasn’t there,” he lamented.

Dardai is deeply concerned about the recurring issue of the six position and the central midfield in Hertha BSC. It’s a problem that has been plaguing the Berlin second division soccer team since the start of the season, and despite various attempts to resolve it through the transfer market, the issue still persists.

“I’m still looking for the catch: the boy is too good.”

Hertha’s coach Pal Dardai about new signing Bradley Ibrahim

In the game against HSV, Andreas Bouchalakis started as a six, followed by new signee Aymen Barkok, and Florian Niederlechner who is traditionally a striker. While they managed to hold their own, Dardai’s lack of enthusiasm about their performance was evident.

The team continues to struggle, particularly in the areas of creativity, presence, structure, and aggressiveness. This was glaringly obvious during the game on Saturday evening against HSV. The team’s decision to employ a reactive approach against HSV was not only due to these core issues but also due to personnel shortages.

Key players were missing during this crucial game; Marton Dardai was out due to muscular problems, and Pascal Klemens was only available for emergency substitution following his recent illness. Despite starting the season with the Dardai/Klemens duo in the double six position, their performance hasn’t been consistently impressive.

This raises questions about the efficacy of the players Hertha has signed since the start of the season, including Andreas Bouchalakis and Bilal Hussein who were signed in August, and Aymen Barkok who was borrowed from Mainz 05 in January.

Hussein doesn’t even make it into the squad

Hussein was noticeably absent in the cup against Kaiserslautern and three days later against HSV. Despite being healthy and injury-free, he didn’t make the squad. Dardai believes that Hussein lacks the physical robustness necessary for the game.

Bouchalakis, despite his status as a national player and experience playing in the Champions League with his former club Olympiakos Piraeus, is struggling to adapt to the physical demands of German second division football.

Too many errors. Andreas Bouchalakis (left) initiated the decisive 0:3 in the cup quarter-finals against Kaiserslautern with a sloppy pass.

© IMAGO/Matthias Koch

Additionally, Bouchalakis’s game is riddled with errors, especially concerning for a position that requires consistent defensive vigilance. His sloppy back pass to central defender Marc Kempf during the cup against Kaiserslautern resulted in a decisive 0:3.

Newcomer Aymen Barkok also lacks the necessary sense of danger for a good six. Despite his impressive ball handling skills, his performance against HSV revealed why he has never been more than a supplementary player in his professional career.

Barkok’s decision to maintain a considerable distance from shooter Miro Muheim before Hamburg’s first goal and letting Ludovit Reis run before the second goal were glaring errors. Dardai, increasingly frustrated by the repetitive mistakes made by his team, called for improvements, stating, “The performance has to be right. But there is still room for improvement.”

It’s interesting to note that Dardai has high hopes for 19-year-old Englishman Bradley Ibrahim, who was signed from Arsenal last week. Despite not having played a single professional game yet, Dardai spoke highly of him after his first training session, stating, “I’m still looking for the catch: the boy is too good.”

Dardai even promised Ibrahim a game against HSV last week, but the newcomer remained on the bench. Defending his decision, Dardai explained, “If I throw him in and we lose, the critics will come back and say: ‘You shouldn’t burn a youth player right away.'”

However, Dardai believes that if Ibrahim lives up to the potential he showed during his first training sessions, he would be a valuable asset for the future of Hertha BSC. He praised Ibrahim’s stability, clean passes and his natural ability as a ball eater.