Hertha Berlin coach Otto Rehhagel has demanded more time to turn his team's fortunes around after they dropped into the relegation zone after their seventh straight defeat in the Bundesliga.
The former Greece manager took over at Hertha last Sunday when Michael Skibbe was sacked after losing all five of his games in charge.
After finishing last in the 2009/10 season, Hertha came straight back up last season after winning the second division at a canter, but the capital city club are again facing relegation. Hertha suffered a 3-0 defeat at fellow strugglers Augsburg yesterday to drop to 16th among the Bundeliga's 18 teams and they are just two points away from the bottom of the league.
"I did not think that after two weeks here we would be up to third place in the league," said the 73-year-old Rehhagel with a hint of sarcasm. "We are not Bayern Munich and it is clear that we do not play like Barcelona."
After a low-key training session on Sunday, Rehhagel gave his players Monday off and said now is not the time for punishing sessions after the defeat saw Augsburg climb out of the relegation zone. "The guys need to relax mentally, they are all incredibly disappointed," said Rehhagel. "They should go to their families and on Tuesday we will work with them again."
Having been heralded as the saviour of Hertha last weekend, Rehhagel was dealt a double blow of reality as his team conceeded two goals in two second-half minutes from Augsburg's Thorsten Oehrl yesterday. Cameroon's Marcel Ndjeng came off the bench to score the hosts' third in the 92nd minute to ensure it was a long drive back to the capital from Bavaria for the Hertha team and their fans.
"You can have three Otto Rehhagels and Mourinho (in charge), but if we play like that, no one can help us," said Hertha captain Andre Mijatovic.
With less than three months until the season's end, Rehhagel said his team are drinking in the last-chance saloon with closing time approaching. "It is now three minutes to midnight and we are dancing on a razor's edge," said the German who led Greece to the EURO 2004 title.
Rehhagel has some tricky games ahead as Hertha face Werder Bremen and Cologne in the coming weeks before they host Bayern Munich on 17 March.