Arnesen aiming high with Hamburg
Hamburg general manager Frank Arnesen believes the club has everything it needs to be on a par with Bayern Munich.
Arnesen had been under heavy pressure earlier this season. A miserable start to the campaign, in which Hamburg failed to take a point from their first four Bundesliga matches and suffered a first-round cup defeat to third-flight team Karslruher SC, left the former Chelsea man fearing for his job.
However, the additions made to squad during the last days of the transfer window - Milan Badelj, Petr Jiracek and, most significantly, Rafael van der Vaart - have helped Hamburg to move up the table towards the Europa League places.
"With the transfers of Van der Vaart and Jiracek, we made two steps forward at the end of August," the Dane told Die Welt. "This team has great quality now, which only has to be gradually improved to compete for Europe next season."
Hamburg face Bayern Munich in their next game. In a recent interview, Bayern president Uli Hoeness had claimed that Hamburg, rather than Borussia Dortmund, were the only side that could be on a par with his club in the long run due to the city they are based in.
Arnesen is due to meet with Hoeness at the weekend and said: "I have to ask him about this... But, seriously, Uli is actually spot on. Hamburg is a football-crazy city with 1.9 millon people living here. In addition, no city in Germany is richer than Hamburg. We have everything needed to be on a par with Bayern."
However, Arnesen knows it will take some time to reach their targets. "My aim is to form a team in Hamburg that can compete for the European spots year by year - sometimes Europa League and sometimes Champions League. A city like Hamburg - Uli Hoeness is absolutely right - needs a club with that aspiration."
Asked why Bayern had achieved so much more than Hamburg in the past quarter of a century, Arnesen replied: "We have not won a title in 25 years, and Bayern compete for big success every year. The main reason for that, in my opinion, is that Bayern have a unique consistency, worldwide, at the top of the club. For some 30 years now, Uli Hoeness, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Franz Beckenbauer have been the main decision-makers."