Hamburg have sacked coach Thorsten Fink after picking up just four points from their opening five games of the season, with former HSV players Esteban Cardoso and Otto Addo taking temporary charge of the side.
Hamburg suffered a 6-2 defeat to Borussia Dortmund on Saturday evening but, late on Sunday, the club’s sporting director, Oliver Kreuzer, had denied any discussions had taken place over Fink’s position.
Carl-Edgar Jarchow, the chairman, also withheld his support for the coach, saying: “Essentially I have a lot of patience, but the management also expects that certain things should be implemented.”
Fink later confirmed to NDR radio that he was no longer in charge: "I am proud to have been here the past two years. I have coached a great club. There is still enough time to reach the [club's] goals -- even if it is with another coach."
During a press conference on Tuesday, Kreuzer added: “Thorsten did not expect this. When I informed him, he was disappointed and shocked.
“We no longer saw a clear-cut direction. We saw no continuity. We already had that last year and wanted to change that. We did not succeed. We no longer believed that Fink could turn things around.”
Hamburg, beaten 5-1 at home to Hoffenheim on August 17, have conceded 15 goals in their five games to date this season. For the trip to Dortmund this weekend, Fink had experimented with a 3-5-2 formation and then twice changed his tactics during the course of the defeat.
Following the game at the Westfalenstadion, Fink had visited his family in Munich rather than travel back to Hamburg, and Kreuzer said on Monday: “Admittedly, that is a bit unfortunate. After such a defeat you have to change your private plans. I will also discuss it with him.”
Late on Monday, Kreuzer relieved Fink of his duties. Hamburg captain Rafael van der Vaart told Bild he had been left “totally shocked” by the decision.
“I have never considered this possible,” the former Tottenham midfielder added. “Nobody informed me. I don’t know anything about it. I don’t really understand the timing of the decision.”
Kreuzer was asked at Tuesday’s press conference whether he felt Van der Vaart was entitled to voice his discontent over the decision.
He said: “Not really. It is our decision. Rafael has to accept it.”
Hamburger Morgenpost suggests two possible candidates to replace Fink: Franco Foda, the former Kaiserslautern coach, and ex-Hoffenheim boss Markus Babbel. Bild reports that Babbel is currently the favourite, although Kreuzer -- who said the “new coach has to speak the German language” -- denied he had spoken to the former Germany international.
This weekend, Cardoso and Addo will take charge of Hamburg as they entertain local rivals Werder Bremen at home.