Hertha Berlin have become a tight-knit unit once more under new head coach Bruno Labbadia, according to left-back Maximilian Mittelstädt and goalkeeper Rune Jarstein.
Polish substitute Piatek then broke clear in injury-time to net his third Bundesliga goal, one which made sure that Hertha have taken 10 points from a possible 12 on Labbadia’s watch.
“We’re playing as a team – everyone is fighting for one another,” said Mittelstädt, after what was only Hertha’s fifth win in 15 home games this season.
“We’re taking on Bruno Labbadia’s ideas very well, and we’re working very well together as a team. That’s what was missing in previous weeks.”
Watch: Piatek: “We work hard”
When 54-year-old Labbadia replaced Alexander Nouri - the club's third coach of the season after Jürgen Klinsmann and Ante Covic - in April, Hertha were still a little worried about being dragged into a relegation fight. Now, though, they find themselves ninth in the table and looking to play down talk of making up enough ground to qualify for European competition next season.
The capital club are only four points behind sixth-placed Wolfsburg , but Jarstein insists they are taking it “game by game” rather than dreaming of Europe. The 35-year-old clearly feels, however, that Labbadia has already given the club a new lease of life.
“Things are going really well with the new coach,” Jarstein said. “We understand his thinking and have become a team again.”
Hertha have looked a sharp and hungry side since Labbadia arrived, and a dominant showing in the first half against Augsburg could have been rewarded with more than a one-goal half-time lead. The second period was less impressive, but the home team showed character – and got a slice of luck – to hold on for another victory.
Labbadia admitted that “the tank was completely empty” for his players in the second half. With a reputation as a firefighter – having steered VfB Stuttgart, Hamburg and Wolfsburg away from relegation trouble in the past – he is now looking to emulate what he achieved last year.
“You could never have expected to get 10 points from these games.”
Now that his side has, however, Labbadia will hope the Old Lady continue picking up momentum over the final five games of the campaign – starting with the Matchday 30 trip to face Borussia Dortmund.