The Fall of Farve from Hertha Berlin

28 September 2009

Last season, Lucien Farve guided Hertha Berlin to fourth in the Bundesliga and into the Europa League. Monday, Farve was shown the door at after losing six on the trot, seeing Hertha Berlin at the foot of the Bundesliga table.

Credit should be given to Lucien Farve; he was able to guide Hertha from consecutive tenth place finishes into a position where they could have won last season's Bundesliga title, settling for fourth place. But there are plenty of reasons Hertha Berlin are looking for a new manager right now.

* Farve's inability to get along with top names. When Farve was unable to get along with Marko Pantelic and Josip Simunic, or any real top talent for that matter, it spelled trouble in the summer. Pantelic went to Ajax, while Simunic went to Hoffenheim. He had to have total control of everything in training and in the dressing room. It was his way or the proved in the end Farve was the one seeing the Autobahn.

* No true leadership in the dressing room. The players on this club are so diverse, there is no true sense of leadership in the dressing room. When captain Arne Friedrich is saying "I can't be the leader of the team in which half the people don't understand a word of my language, and I don't understand them either", there are massive problems within the players at the club. The captain should never say that. Yes, it's a more international club game than ever before. Yes, there should be some common ground in language in the dressing room. However, right now it's apparent the players at Hertha Berlin are more in it for themselves than for the club. That's just a recipe for disaster...and relegation. At least learn enough of the native tongue to get around.

* Ownership without money. When you sell Simunic for six million pounds and spend less than 1.25 million on your biggest signing in Adrian Ramos, you've got problems. Simply put, Hertha Berlin is a club that doesn't have loads of money at their disposal. For a club in the capital of Germany, that's frightening. Look at Rome (though AS Roma is struggling right now), London (two Champions League clubs, one more in the Europa League), Paris (PSG is a steady League Un side), Moscow (of late has come on with one club in Europe on a yearly basis), and Madrid (Real Madrid...say no more); all capital cities with European football pedigree. The board of Hertha have too many questions to ask with regards to how much money they have to invest in the club. For a club who have played in the Bundesliga for over a decade, and been in Europe now twice, money issues should not be a problem.

* The inability to sign Andriy Voronin from Liverpool. He was their heart and soul up front and his goals have been sorely missed. Again, that goes to the lack of money available. What's scarier is that Liverpool only asked five million. They couldn't afford the transfer fee and his wages, what does that tell you?

* Last season was more about luck than talent. Last season, Hertha Berlin rode their luck more often than not to get results, and they rode that luck well. Hertha lost nine games and still finished fourth. Hamburg in fifth lost eleven, Borussia Dortmund finished six and had fourteen draws. Hoffenheim finished seven and had ten draws alongside their nine losses. Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich each had seven losses last season and Stuttgart had eight of their own. That's how tight it was at the top, and how even the top of the Bundesliga was. Take away the key pieces that saw them finish fourth with the luck they had, you have the situation Hertha Berlin are in now.

What's sadder for Farve is that he was playing his strongest eleven when Hertha played Hoffenheim on Sunday. What's even more frightening is they have to travel away Thursday in the Europa League to face Sporting Lisbon. If that wasn't bad enough, Hamburg comes to the Olympiastadion on Sunday. Expect the fans to demand answers, and to be just a little more hostile than normal. The team cannot hide behind Farve anymore, and you can't expect the U23 coach to walk into this mess and be a miracle worker.


Paul Duffen Unwise to Call Hull City Fans Pathetic

24 September 2009

When the club you are chairman of have only won two of their last twenty-eight premier league games, there are certain things you don't say in public.

Calling your fans pathetic in a radio interview for wanting Phil Brown to do a better job or be gone is one of them.

I can understand Paul Duffen's frustration. It hasn't exactly been a 'great' 2009 despite staying up. As with the stuff mentioned above, they are currently sitting 19th in the table and face a daunting away trip to Anfield this weekend. He's frustrated the fans aren't happy with the product on the pitch, and I'm sure there is some worry about being in the relegation zone all season. What Duffen should be aware of is that fans at this point should be questioning where the club is going. At this moment in time, it does look bleak. Yes, this is their second season in the Premier League, but what Duffen and his backroom staff should realize is the fans WANT to stay in the Premier League. They don't want cause for serious concern, and all of their performances in 2009 have been cause for such concern.

When you are in an authority position, the last thing you want to do is something that makes a group of people question your ability to handle pressure. It seems that Hull City's backroom could write a book on how not to handle pressure. Let's start last Boxing Day when Phil Brown decided to give his squad a tongue lashing in front of away supporters at Manchester City. I'll forever be convinced that was the moment everything went downhill at Hull City last season. This season, four points and six games, looking like it will be four in seven after the weekend. The last thing Paul Duffen needs to be telling the fans who pay their hard earned pounds to frequent the KC Stadium that they are pathetic for wanting better. If that means Phil Brown has to go, then so be it.

What makes this seemingly show of support for Phil Brown more ironic is the Guardian report tonight that said that Phil Brown only has six weeks to save his job. It can't be one or the other. With the message Duffen put in the public today, that report makes no sense whatsoever. It's one message or the other. Is Phil Brown safe, or is Phil Brown's job in jeopardy? Having two messages in the press is not what is needed at this moment in time.

The only thing pathetic here is Paul Duffen belittling his fan base. It's something they won't soon forget.


Hertha Berlin, Bayer Leverkusen and Hamburg Knocked Out of the German Cup

23 September 2009

God bless domestic cup competitions.

The second round of the DFB Pokal (German Cup) has come to a conclusion and it produced plenty of shock results. The upsets started on Tuesday night as fourth tiered Eintracht Trier beat Arminia Bielefeld of the Bundesliga 2 4-2 in extra time. Bielefeld took a 2-0 lead, but saw Senesie pull Trier level by the seventy-sixth minute. In extra time, Bielefeld fell apart and Risser put the Regionalliga West side in front before Senesie put away all doubts from the penalty spot. MSV Duisburg went away to Borussia Monchengladbach and won in second half injury time 1-0. Michael Bradley played for all ninety minutes in the loss for Gladbach, picking up a yellow card in the process.

However, the big shocks of the round happened on Wednesday afternoon. 1860 Munich have been in financial trouble for many years, with the German Cup the only way to keep their name somewhat relevant. Kenny Cooper signed for the club in the summer transfer window, and has taken the club by storm and today's matchup against Hertha Berlin was no different. Already ahead 1-0, Kenny Cooper put 1860 ahead 2-0 five minutes into the second half. At that point, it looked like 1860 Munich were going to blow the favorites from the Bundesliga out of the water. When Cooper was subbed out in the sixty-eighth minute, Hertha Berlin tore 1860 apart getting two goals inside three minutes to level the score. In stoppage time, Hertha was unable to find the game winner and paid the price in the shootout. Hertha missed their first two attempts; 1860 hit all four of their spot kicks to advance 4-1 in the shootout.

The other major shock of the round happened at Bundesliga 3 side Osnabruck as they hosted Hamburg. After a dull first half, Hansen put the minnows ahead. Fifteen minutes later, Siegert looked set to put the 16,100 at the Osnatel Arena in pure rapture making it 2-0. Hamburg, to their credit, didn't give up. Starting with Petric, Hamburg pulled one back thirteen minutes from time. Hamburg pulled level in the second minute of added time, sending the game into extra time. In extra time, Hamburg started positively and were awarded with the goal in the 100th minute. In what wasn't even the final twist in the tale, Grieneisen put Osnabruck level just four minutes from time on a goal of the round contender. In the shoot out, the home side Osnabruck hit all four of their penalties. Hamburg however, saw Tesche and Petric miss on awful penalty attempts to see Hamburg knocked out.

Bayer Leverkusen were knocked out away to Kaiserslautern in a match they were never truly in. Koln knocked out title holders Wolfsburg 3-2. Alemannia Aachen nearly capped off a remarkable comeback tonight. Down 5-1 away to Eintracht Frankfurt, Aachen pulled three goals back to make it 5-4. However, they conceded a penalty to lose 6-4.

Other sides remaining in the German Cup are Hoffenheim, Bayern Munich, SpVgg Greuther Furth, Bourssia Dortmund, Schalke, TSV Koblenz, Augsburg, Werder Bremen, and Stuttgart.


The Third Half 8: Martin Tyler

The Third Half is honored to have Martin Tyler of Sky Sports, TWI/IMG Media, and SBS fame. On the podcast we discuss the start of the Barclay's Premier League season, how Tottenham have impressed him, the start of this season of the promoted sides, and much more.

We then talk about his second love, coaching. Currently an assistant manager at Kingstonian Football Club, we discuss the club's promotion into the Ryman Premier League, how their promotion compares to promotion of the Championship sides into the Premier League. The conversation then closes with their start of this season's FA Cup.

You can download the podcast from here. You can also subscribe to the podcast feed via iTunes. If you ever want to get in touch with me, you can leave a comment here or email me at


Martin Tyler Interview Questions

18 September 2009

I will have the pleasure of interviewing Martin Tyler for the next episode of The Third Half podcast. After discussion of his coaching role at Kingstonian FC and the early qualifying rounds of the FA Cup, we'll have a little time to talk about the start of the Premier League/Champions League.

If you have any questions, either leave a response here, reply on my twitter account, or email me at Questions need to be sent by 5 am Eastern (10 am in the UK).


The Third half 7: US Soccer and World Cup Qualifying Recap

10 September 2009

On this week's edition of The Third Half, Johnathan Starling is joined by Fox Sports very own Jamie Trecker and Own Goal Network's, MLS Talk, and EPL Talk's Kartik Krishnaiyer as we break down the two most recent US World Cup Qualifiers. We also break down the USSF and qualifying across the rest of the world.

If you want to get in contact with me with regards to the show, you can email me at

Don't forget to also subscribe to the show on iTunes. Or if you want, you can download the show from here.


Bjorn Helge Riise Makes Wrong First Impression At Fulham

08 September 2009

Just because you're the younger brother of John Arne Riise, doesn't give you the right to speak like you are on your brother's level in the footballing world.

However, if you're Bjorn Helge Riise, you give off the pompous impression that you're better than the entire Fulham roster. Adding to the insult, Riise took a shot at the man who will keep him out of the Fulham starting eleven: Damien Duff.

Obviously, Fulham are taking the high road here. They want a full transcript before they pass judgment. However, Riise's comments are plain for the world to see. Saying things like "I don't think they've done all that good. But they have a good reputation and come from bigger clubs than me," and "I came from little Lillestrom in Norway, but players like Damien Duff have a name and status after playing for clubs like Newcastle and Chelsea and is ahead of me," not to mention ""But he is not that much faster than I am, and I have a better technique, a better touch and deliver better passes than he does," just makes you look like a first class jackass.

Look Riise, you are still an unknown. Hell, you were only worth two million pounds coming from a relatively decent club in Norway. Damien Duff; well he cost four. Duff is a proven Premier League player; Riise, you're just riding the coat tails of your older brother's fame. You may have had a good technique, touches and passes in Norway, but you won't get the time you had in Norway to pull things off. Duff; he knows the score in the Premier League, and even at his age will still take you and your 'talent' to school.

The other fatal mistake you made Riise is trying to pull this off while having Roy Hodgson as your manager. He is about as old school as they come. Riise, if you think your better, you prove it on the training ground. You DON'T prove it in the press. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if Riise is fined two weeks worth of wages and left to sit in the reserves until the first of the year. Even then, Riise may have run out of chances. If that's the case, the only way he plays is if there are a glut of injuries to the Fulham midfield.

Riise, let your football do all the talking for you, because the words that just came out of your mouth were nothing more than garbage.


It Is Time to Rewrite the Rules On Diving

01 September 2009

When I heard that Arsenal's Eduardo got a two game ban by UEFA for diving against Celtic last week, I mentally went 'yea sounds about right'. When I read that Arsenal were appealing the two game ban, I instantly became enraged.

Once the rage died, I started thinking. FIFA's logic in all matters is that rules can't be changed because they can't be applied down the entire pyramid. While I understand that for some things, I call absolute bs on the matter of diving and on video evidence being used post match. When it comes to diving/simulation, it's time for FIFA to come to it's senses and rewrite the rules.

With the rules as they are written now in regards to diving, if you're caught in match, it's only a yellow card. Each country's FA and each Confederation have their own rules with how potential cheaters are dealt with after the fact. UEFA, on an inconsistent basis, has banned players two matches for simulation post match. I honestly couldn't tell you how others Confederations deal with diving once a match is over, and that's another problem that is solved here.

FIFA instantly needs to change the laws on diving to read like this: if you are caught diving in game, it's a straight red card and a subsequent two match ban. If the referee misses a dive and they think something needs to be looked at post match, it's written in the referee's report and then they look at the video tape to give their opinion to the FA/Confederation. The report and tape are both then looked at and if there is an agreement simulation happened, the player is then banned for three matches.

Now the question I know everyone is going to hammer me on: how do we deal with video evidence as you go lower in the football pyramid? The answer to that question is a simple one: the lowering cost of technology today. Pricing a digital camcorder, you can get one for around 350 dollars. All you need are four cameras looking at the action in four different spots following the action at all times. Put one behind both goals, one in one half on a touchline, and the other on the opposite touchline in the other half. Those basic camera angles, if being used correctly, should catch every act of simulation possible. If teams want to use six cameras (placing two on each touchline), then so be it. That's only 1400-2100 dollars to catch every dive possible. If a club can't afford to come up with at least 1400 bucks, I seriously question if they deserve to be in business.

If football really is serious in stopping simulation, this is the only course of action I see that will stop it in it's tracks. The lowering price of technology today is a big help. If you have any better ideas how to stop diving, I would love to hear them! Let us know by leaving a comment below.


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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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