AMSTERDAM – After getting the first half hook in their Friday night win over Werder Bremen, young Hertha Berlin defender John Anthony Brooks drew some public fire from manager Jos Luhukay.
The 20-year-old, who is playing in his first Bundesliga campaign, was at fault on both Bremen goals before being replaced in the 38th minute. On Saturday, Luhukay firmly told local daily BZ that Brooks needed to come out of his shell as a top flight defender.
"I don't think he challenged one duel while he was in, (center back partner Fabian) Lustenberger had 15-20 – that's not gonna work," the Hertha boss began. "People are going to grow from such moments. In the Bundesliga, it's a harsh reality. John started yet another match without enough motivation. He's not active enough, so I have to react. He needs to shake off this youthfulness and become an adult.
"If he has character, he'll learn. This was not the first time. He needs to learn it himself - it can only come from him. Otherwise, this won't be the last time I pull him early."
The match stats back up the coach's complaints. Brooks failed to notch a single tackle or interception in his 38 minutes, winning one aerial duel among just 21 touches.
As alluded to by Luhukay, Brooks was also pulled early from their August 24 home victory against Hamburg, working only 23 minutes on that night. The youngster did suffer a minor knock during Friday night warm-ups, but was needed in the line-up with Sebastian Langkamp out.
Despite any troubles, the risers stand two points shy of a Europa League place in seventh. Hertha will reach the halfway point of the Bundesliga season when they visit Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.