Pal Dardai returns as Hertha Berlin coach to replace Sandro Schwarz
Pal Dardai has been named Hertha Berlin coach for the third time on a deal till the end of the season after Sandro Schwarz was relieved of his duties following Friday night’s 5-2 defeat at Schalke that left the Old Lady rooted to the foot of the Bundesliga.
Schwarz, 44, was name Hertha coach at the start of the season after caretaker boss Felix Magath had kept them up thanks to a play-off victory over Hamburg. However, the former Mainz boss won just five of his 29 competitive fixtures at the helm, and none since 25 February and a 2-0 home success over Augsburg.
The Matchday 28 loss at fellow relegation battlers Schalke was the Old Lady's fourth in their last six and saw them drop to the bottom of the standings, two points behind their conquerors and VfB Stuttgart in the play-off spot.
"Sandro and his coaching team have invested a lot of work, energy and passion into the development of the team every day. We're like to thank him and wish him all the best for the future," said sporting director Benjamin Weber. "After the manner of the awful defeat in Gelsenkirchen, we've taken the past day and half to intensively analyse and evaluate our situation, also together with Sandro. We've come to the conclusion that the team needs new impetus for the few remaining games to achieve our goal of remaining in the division."
Watch: Schalke 5-3 Hertha - highlights
Schwarz returned to Germany after a successful two-year stint at Dinamo Moscow, having guided the Russian club to a third-placed finish last season – their most successful campaign in more than a decade.
He became Hertha’s seventh head coach since 2019 when Dardai's first four-year spell at the helm ended. The club's former captain and record appearance maker in the Bundesliga, ex-Hungary international Dardai was the Berliners' third-longest-serving coach and took the team into the UEFA Europa League after a sixth-place finish in 2016/17.
However, four coaches were then at the helm across 2019/20 and 2020/21 in Ante Covic, Jürgen Klinsmann, Alexander Nouri and Bruno Labbadia before Dardai returned for the second time in January 2021.
The 47-year-old oversaw a further 31 games with the first team before he was also dismissed in November 2021. Tayfun Korkut saw out three months before Magath was parachuted in to save the Old Lady.
"I'm delighted that Pal has agreed to take over the team in this challenging situation for Hertha," Weber added. "Pal has shown twice before that he can stabilise a team with his clear manner and plan, and lead it our of situations like this. We're firmly of that belief now."
Dardai himself added in a statement on the club website: "Everyone knows my relationship to Bertha, so I didn't have to think long when the call came. There are six games to go, perhaps even two more after that, and I'll do everything with the team to keep this club in the Bundesliga. It won't be an easy job, but I'm looking forward to it."
Hertha have six games left if they are to avoid a first top-flight relegation since 2012. Dardai begins his mission at home to Werder Bremen, before taking on Bayern Munich (a), Stuttgart (h), Cologne (a), Bochum (h) and Wolfsburg (a).
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