BERLIN, March 1(Reuters) - Hertha Berlin coach Otto Rehhagel ordered extra training sessions this week as he prepares for a reunion with former club Werder Bremen on Saturday, hoping to snap his team’s seven-game losing streak.
Hertha, newly-promoted this season, had a good start to their campaign before collapsing since the winter break, losing all their seven games in the league and German Cup.
Rehhagel, idolised in Bremen after coaching them for 14 years from 1981-95 and winning domestic and European titles, failed to turn things around in his Hertha debut last week with his team losing 3-0 at relegation rivals Augsburg leaving them in 16th spot, two points above bottom-placed Freiburg.
”For him this is a prestige game,“ Hertha assistant coach Rene Tretschok told reporters. ”He is very emotional about this match.
“A win against Bremen would be the best thing for him now.”
Rehhagel, 73, returned to the Bundesliga after a 12-year absence with the mandate of keeping the capital’s only Bundesliga representatives up.
The extra hours on snowy pitches this week were meant to instil exactly this sense of urgency after 12 games without a win.
Rehhagel could have defender Christian Lell back in time for the match after he recovered from a muscle injury.
“We must get rid of that lethargy in our bones,” Hertha goalkeeper Thomas Kraft told reporters after shouting at his teammates during training.
“We have to become more aggressive. Everyone of our players must have motivation and passion now.”
“As a goalkeeper I want to shake them so they wake up.”
A defeat against Bremen would send Hertha deeper down the table and raise questions about whether Hertha’s third coach this season, and arguably the most controversial choice for under-fire manager Michael Preetz, can turn things around.
Champions Borussia Dortmund, four points clear at the top of the table after their 17-match unbeaten streak, host Mainz 05, who are undefeated themselves in the last five games.
Title contenders Bayern Munich, in second place, travel to Bayer Leverkusen, knowing any result other than victory would severely dent their hopes of a treble this season with the Bavarians still in the running for the German Cup and the Champions League.
Editing by Greg Stutchbury