Frankfurt/Main - An 86th-minute goal from Marcell Jansen ensured Bert van Marwijk's tenure as head coach of Hamburger SV didn't start on a losing note, but the former Dutch national team supremo is under no illusions as to the size of the task in hand at the Bundesliga's only ever-present club.
"Players who can make a difference"
Hosts Eintracht Frankfurt may have dominated large stretches of Matchday 7's 2-2 draw, but as Pierre-Michel Lasogga, scorer of Hamburg's first equaliser on the stroke of half time, put it afterwards, "there's no such thing as a lucky point. We worked hard for the result." Skipper Rafael van der Vaart struck a similar chord, saying the team had "earned a point," while acknowledging that, "you could see we're still short of confidence."
In fact, Hamburg both started and finished the contest strongly and, in between, they battled for all they were worth to keep their more fluent opponents in check. On the balance of play, they would nonetheless have had few grounds for complaint if Frankfurt had seen their 2-1 lead through to the finish. As it was, a fine far-post finish from Germany international Jansen earned the guests a share of the spoils with time fast running out.
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy coming to Frankfurt with a team who are unsure of themselves," van Marwijk told the assembled media after the match. Acknowledging that his new charges had tailed off after a positive start, the 61-year-old tactician nonetheless saw plenty of grounds for encouragement: "I liked the second half a lot better. We showed we've got a few creative players who can make a difference in the middle of the park."
New start with a new system
His compatriot van der Vaart undoubtedly falls into that category. The HSV playmaker and 105-time Dutch international was satisfied with a result "that we can build on. We fought hard, we had a new system and we tried to play good football. Sometimes it worked out, sometimes it didn't."
Consistent good football is the aim for van Marwijk, who led the Netherlands to the final of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and spent two and a half years in charge of Dortmund from 2004 to 2006. "When the bus pulled in here, everything was just as I remembered it," the Bundesliga old hand commented. Change is in the air in other ways, though, as coach and players work towards "showing how we really want to play: adventurous, attacking football out of defence." The road may prove a long one but in Frankfurt, they took a first modest step in the right direction.
Christoph Ruf in Frankfurt/Angus Davison