Hamburg coach Thorsten Fink has panned suggestions his team can challenge for a Champions League place in the Bundesliga this season.
Fink took over as Hamburg’s head coach in October last year, helping the club avoid relegation after a shocking start to last season under Michael Oenning.
Hamburg are 10th with the second half of the season to come and having defeated Borussia Dortmund, Mainz and Schalke, who all sit above them on the Bundesliga table, excitement is brewing in the northern German city.
But Fink is eager to play down inflated expectations.
“No, not this year, there’s not a Champions League place for us,” Fink said.
“Maybe in two years.
“Last year we finished 15th, it’s very bad and we must develop but I think we have a good team.”
Fink believes he has a squad strong enough to challenge for Europa League berth but after a decade of inconsistency, Hamburg’s boss wants to avoid any end-of-season collapse.
Hamburg have finished in the top five of the Bundesliga on five occasions in the past 13 seasons, while also finishing in the bottom half three times.
“We’ve gone up fast and gone down fast, now we must develop,” Fink said.
“We have time.”
The 45-year-old believes Michael Mancienne and Tomas Rincon are two of the younger members of his squad who he could build a team around in the future.
Mancienne, a 25-year-old English defender, is in the middle of his second season in Germany, while Rincon, a 24-year-old Venezuelan midfielder, has played 88 times for Hamburg in four and a half seasons.
“Michael Mancienne has played very well this season,” Fink said.
“He’s very consistent, so it’s very good for us.
“He’s good with his head. He plays simply without a lot of mistakes.
“Sometimes he needs to be louder. He’s not loud enough, I think. He must work hard but he’s a young player and I think it’s the future for us, for our club.
“(Rincon’s) a hard worker for our team, a good team worker and I think that’s what we need.
“Sometimes we need this. Sometimes we need players who can fight.
“He’s a fighter and a very good player.”