When Favre took over 18 months ago, they were a laughing stock and widely tipped to be relegation fodder. A tenth-placed finish in May hardly set the pulses of the notoriously hard-to-please Berliners racing, but a few excellent manoeuvres in the transfer market and some coolly efficient wins have earned the neutrals' respect, if not exactly adulation.
Hmmm. Turning around a laughing stock? Excellent transfers? That sounds the ticket, doesn't it? The fact that the following season saw a title challenge also speaks to his favor. But (Honigstein again, the emphasis is mine)
It's certainly evident that a little cynicism and defensive rigidity go a long way in a league that has been high on an endless of supply of carefree attacking football of late. "Simply top" was Kicker magazine's headline on Monday. A nice pun, for simplicity is indeed the key. Hertha's struggles against lesser teams who sit even deeper than they do have exposed the limitations of their counter-revolutionary approach
Problem numero uno. How does a defensive, counter-attacking style fit with Payne's self-professed style mandate? I remember the commentary at the time of Hertha's title challenge. It was full of bile about how terribly dull and negative they were. Isn't that precisely the type of system Payne disparaged in the likes of New England and Colorado? Problem numero dos. MLS isn't exactly flourishing with "carefree attacking football," now is it? How successful would Favre's approach prove in a less open league?
Now, there's nothing to say that Favre might not have a few additional tricks up his sleeve. Indeed, I know little of what the sides he coached in Switzerland played like. I only have a deep suspicion of the words "Swiss" and "tactics" in the same sentence, as they tend to be methodical, cynical, and dire, accusations, as demonstrated above, frequently leveled at Favre's Hertha side.
Still, he's a proven hand at making poor sides better at a high level (we'll ignore the fact that after going 4th in his second season, he got sacked after losing the first six games of the next season, a season that eventually saw Hertha relegated). Maybe the master plan (am I a fool to think there is one?) is to instill some solidity, and maybe bring in a few Euro-diamond transfers (a la the Red Bulls' Euro bosses bringing in Lindpere), all the while setting up a system the fans hate so they'll rejoice when Benny rides in on his white horse as the "savior" in 2-3 years.
I'm willing to be corrected on any of this or proven wrong in the long term, but I'm not exactly tittering with delight if this is the type of boss the FO is on the hunt for.