Hamburg midfielder Rafael van der Vaart is hoping for better fortune in 2014 as his annus horribilis draws to a close.
Van der Vaart’s year began with a high-profile split from wife Sylvie, which received tabloid coverage throughout the year, and more recently he has seen his new partner lose her unborn child.
On a sporting level, Hamburg have continued to underachieve. Despite big plans in the summer, they sit 11 points behind the final Europa League qualification place in the Bundesliga, have one of the worst defensive records in the division and sacked coach Thorsten Fink earlier this season.
Van der Vaart has also been struggling with injury since suffering a foul while representing Netherlands in a 0-0 draw with Colombia on Nov. 19, and his current knee problems may prevent the 30-year-old from making one final appearance before his home crowd against Mainz at the weekend.
“I can only hope 2014 will be better,” Van der Vaart told Bild. “Our ups and downs make me mad -- 16 points out of 16 games is just not enough.”
In late November, Hamburg drew 1-1 at Wolfsburg, who after 16 games hold a 13-point lead over Hamburg.
“That’s embarrassing and bad,” the former Real Madrid midfielder said. “We tore them apart for half an hour during our draw. The more I think about it, the less I understand it.”
Bert van Marwijk was named the new Hamburg coach in September, and Van der Vaart believes the former Netherlands boss will bring about an improvement after the winter break.
“Of course, we still have the hope that it’ll get better,” he said. “After our first training camp with Mr Van Marwijk we will get better results.”