Bruno Labbadia is one of the most recognizable manager in Bundesliga, managing the likes of Bayer Leverkusen, Hamburg and Stuttgart throughout his career.
After leaving Wolfsburg last summer, the 54-year-old took a sabbatical period until he became the first manager to be appointed during COVID-19 outbreak, as he became the new Hertha Berlin manager last month.
When Bundesliga clubs allowed to train again, Labbadia took charge of the team in a strange ordeal.
“These Corona times are very bizarre times. We need to keep hold of the positive things: the fact that we can still play, that the Bundesliga is still on, that we are able to keep our jobs and that we are an example to all the leagues in the world; something I think is very important.
“It is something out of the ordinary. I think that the people who were able to make this happen can take a deep breath and be proud of their achievements.”
Labbadia also admitted that training session is like a new experience for him.
“Training has been very strange especially for a new coach. You have to remember that we have only been here for six weeks. We have had team training sessions for a week and a half now. Before that, we were training in small groups. It was very, very strange. We still had to make the best of it.
“We were able to select aspects of our game that we were looking to improve on and practice during this week and a half. Having one week of training before beginning again, regardless of it being a restart, has also been strange. We haven’t debated this much though. We simply told ourselves we need to do this. We had five weeks of intensive work done.”
But motivation proved to be a challenge for the players.
“In terms of getting them ready for the matches, we simply reminded them of the reason they started playing football in the first place: because we enjoyed it. Even without spectators. We can motivate and find pleasure in playing ourselves.
“I was asked how my emotions were faring after the game. My emotions are inside me. We did very well this weekend. The people on the outside, be it the coaching staff or the players on the bench, did their best to
motivate and push the players on. I hope that it will work out just as well throughout the next couple of weeks.”
Labbadia is the third manager that Hertha appointed this season, after Ante Covic and Jurgen Klinsmann.
Covic quit at the end of November last year, after his team lose four games in a row.
Klinsmann resigned after only 10 weeks in the job.
It took Hertha two months before appointing Labbadia.
“It has been a very difficult season for Hertha thus far. For the team as well. A lot of things haven’t gone our way; things that I would prefer not to go into here because I am a person who likes to look forward. The fact is that I was aware this team was not bleeding confidence.
“That is why this win and the manner in which we won did us very well. It broke the ice. If you look at the other results of the weekend, you will come to the conclusion that it was a very positive match-day for us.
“We know that we are in a very shaky position, especially now during this Corona crisis. That is why we are extremely happy that we began the restart in such a manner and I hope the team can carry this momentum into the next weeks.”
Labbadia debut in May 16 in a game against Hoffenheim, and Hertha won with an impressive 3-0.
It’s a good start for Hertha so far.
“I think we saw that the team managed to work extremely hard throughout these five weeks, regardless of the restrictions. They were able to bring everything we asked of them to the table. It was great. It was important.
“With this result, I think they were made aware that investing a lot in themselves is worth it. Nothing can be created out of nothing. That is our creed.
“Everything is made easier when things work out, especially with the changes we have made. It has nothing to do with us building a team. It has to do with the current situation and the best players for each situation. We haven’t made a mistake yet and we hope that we can continue into the coming weeks.”
Labbadia also impressed Hertha fans by allowing several youngsters to play in the first eleven.
“We threw in some youngsters as well. Jordan Torunarigha who we subbed on. Max Mittelstädt to get some stability. Matheus Cunha, a very young player. We tried to see what mix would be most successful.
“That was what made a difference. Not the age or experience but what fit. It wasn’t easy to pick a squad after one week of team training.
“The experience of a coach to be able to make alterations from game to game is important. To be able to say that after one win everything is great again would be proof that we are unaware of what we have gone through.
What I can say for sure is that the team did everything we asked of them. They felt comfortable doing it and that is good. The result has done wonders for us. We needed that. Now we simply need to carry on.”