Hamburg are holding a short training camp ahead of their Bundesliga match against Mainz in order to end a winless run and avoid relegation from the top flight for the first time.
The only club to have played every season in the Bundesliga despite struggling for the past five seasons, Hamburg are second-bottom and in the relegation places, seven points behind Mainz, following a 1-0 defeat at Werder Bremen on Saturday.
They have not won their last 11 Bundesliga games, picking up only four draws — two under old coach Markus Gisdol and two under Bernd Hollerbach, his successor installed in January — since beating Hoffenheim 3-0 in late November.
“I know that many have already written us off,” Hollerbach told reporters on Saturday. “I would not make that mistake.”
With a trip to Bayer Munich coming up the following week, three points against Mainz at the Volksparkstadion are crucial to keep Hamburg’s top-flight hopes alive.
On Monday, they announced they will begin holding a training camp in their old team hotel in the city — though, because of the weather conditions, they will continue to train at their grounds some 20 kilometres away on the other side of Hamburg.
“We don’t need no self-destruction, but rather a unit,” Hamburg CEO Heribert Bruchhagen said.
Hamburg will also step up security measures for the Mainz clash.
Among other measures, no alcoholic beverages will be sold at the Volksparkstadion after ultra groups set off fireworks during the Bremen match, twice causing it to be interrupted, and also threatened to chase their own players out of town ahead of their home match against Bayer Leverkusen in mid-February.
Club executive Frank Wettstein said the club was now aiming for a “zero tolerance” policy in respect to the “criminal and dangerous behaviour at HSV games as well as towards players and employees.”
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.