New Hertha coach Labbadia to prepare team for 'Day X'

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Bundesliga - Bayern Munich v VfL Wolfsburg - Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany - March 9, 2019 VfL Wolfsburg coach Bruno Labbadia before the match REUTERS/Michael Dalder DFL regulations prohibit any use of photographs as image sequences and/or quasi-video

BERLIN (Reuters) - New Hertha Berlin coach Bruno Labbadia will prepare his team to be in peak shape for the day the Bundesliga resumes as the club battles to avoid relegation in a disastrous season.

Experienced Labbadia, who has also worked at VfL Wolfsburg, VfB Stuttgart and Hamburg SV among other, is Hertha's fourth manager this season.

He now has the task of picking up the pieces after Hertha had ambitiously declared in November the launch of their "big club" project with the arrival of coach Juergen Klinsmann and the financial backing of major investor Lars Windhorst.

Klinsmann, the former Germany and United States coach, boldly pledged to turn Hertha into a European contender within a few seasons but his project crashed before even taking off and he left after only eight weeks, blaming club bosses for a lack of trust.

Hertha are currently in 13th place on 28 points, six above the relegation playoff spot.

"Before talking too much, you have to know what you want, what part of the puzzle you need to add," Labbadia told reporters. "I have to see where they stand. The team has been about four weeks away from the ball. That feels like an eternity.

"This is an extremely unusual situation and you have to think about how to deal with the team. I cannot shake hands, not take someone from the arm to the side. It is an unusual situation but we have to think of solutions."

Hertha will this week train in three groups of eight players while team discussions will be taking place in bigger indoor areas to keep safe distances between them.

"I have to best prepare the team for Day X, as best as I possible can," Labbadia said.

The Bundesliga has been suspended from mid-March to at least until April 30 as the virus has spread across Europe. Germany has had more than 125,000 positive cases and more than 3,000 dead.

The German Football League is set to meet at the end of the week to discuss a possible date for the season restart.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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