Off the back of a hammering against Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund find themselves licking their wounds. DW’s Jonathan Harding thinks the club have multiple problems and there doesn’t seem to be a quick fix.The bomb attack
Perhaps it’s the nature of news today, but it seems the emotional and psychological effects of the bomb attack on the BVB players has become a footnote. In truth, it is in many ways the origin of a number of the club’s issues. Recent court statements from Borussia Dortmund players revealed that some were still struggling under the weight of what happened that night, with Roman Weidenfeller saying he sought psychological help. Former head coach Thomas Tuchel has said he believes he would still be at the club were it not for the incident. To forget what that did to this team is to treat BVB’s players like robots.
Read more: Tuchel says bus bombing contributed to Dortmund departure
When Tuchel left, it came after a spat with then-scout Sven Mislintat, public disagreements with the club’s CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke and a German Cup win. It grew into a media monster, even if in some ways it felt premature. Then Ousmane Dembele went on strike to force his “dream move” to Barcelona and, six months later, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had his very own transfer saga as he finally left the club. All three moves dragged on and ruffled feathers along the way. It was just another ingredient to add to the club’s unsettling soup.
Read more: Aubameyang transfer saga leaves a bitter taste
Trouble at the top
There is responsibility to be taken at every level of the club, from players to coaches to board members. After the statement issued in court over the bomb attack, Hans-Joachim Watzke’s decision to play the Champions League game against Monaco looked an even poorer one. Watzke hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory in recent months, and Michael Zorc’s recruitment hasn’t been as impeccable as previous years. Even those at the top of the pile have questions to answer.
Read more: Opinion – Dortmund’s problem is Watzke
The arrival of Peter Bosz seemed a knee-jerk reaction and an attempt mainly to match or improve on the style of football on show under Tuchel. After an electric start, a nightmare followed. And then Dortmund turned to Peter Stöger. The Austrian has largely got the job done but the aesthetic has disappeared to such an extent that many didn’t know how Dortmund made it 12 league games without defeat. The change in coaching styles between Tuchel, Bosz and Stöger were so drastic that Dortmund lost all coherence and now look desperate just to get over the line every weekend.
Read more: The numbers that added up to Bosz’s dismissal
Constantly suffering under the pressure of being Germany’s “number two”, Borussia Dortmund haven’t done a great deal to stay in the second spot. The sale of their best talents were – for the most part – not matched with the kind of replacements suited to a side aspiring to consistently make the Champions League knockout stages. Another group of youngsters have been asked to exceed expectations and play beyond their qualities, while senior players have struggled to be consistent. It says a lot that they can lose 6-0 to Bayern and not too many people are surprised by the result.
Read more: Can Dortmund afford to keep selling their best players?
Identity question mark
What is Borussia Dortmund? They were known for their high-tempo, thrilling football under Jürgen Klopp, and under Thomas Tuchel they looked to have found a good successor. They were a side bursting with young talents with a desire to win and to challenge the best.
Since then, the change in coaches, the loss of too many young talents not suitably replaced, the vast growth of the club internationally – suddenly the yellow and black appears to be spread too thinly across all that it attempts to cover. Fundamental questions about where the club wants to go and what it wants to represent need to be addressed again as they approach a new chapter.