Freitag! Relax, settle down, grab your comfortable furniture of choice and enjoy. Trequartista is back and this week our free-roaming writer Axel takes a look at an unnerving trend in German football.
How about this for a pattern: Dortmund in 14/15, Borussia Mönchengladbach in 15/16 and Schalke 04 in 16/17. All these clubs from more or less the same area of Germany have all swallowed a bit too much of the self-produced coal at the beginning of respective seasons and have coincidentally found themselves at the bottom of civilization. Err... Bundesliga. Sorry about that. Not at all shots fired at charcoal miners, an honest kind of people. They're the exact same in Ruhr. Anyway, it's really a shame to see these teams fall so far from grace and I geuinely have no idea why. However, it's a pattern and a rather clear one. All of these teams (well, the Borussias) have though after their initial downfall recovered and finished in the top 7 of the league.
Is it down to material, their quality or down to the managers? I can assure you it's not about the latter. Klopp, Favre and Weinzierl are too good to be blamed for this. The quality of the players isn't it either. All of these teams have had player material enough to reach top four of Bundesliga. So is it about depth? Possibly, but one could argue these teams have got the funds to build a good squad, a squad good enough to compete at the very highest level even. So why? Why the downfall of these giants?
There is one very simple solution and it's a mixture of lots of things:
1. The Manager.
While Klopp, Favre and Weinzierl are great managers, maybe their style of play is limited to a certain kind of players. Maybe all these teams missed one or two of the players needed to play well. This is one of the most popular opinions regarding this. This practically means that the downfall wasn't the coach's fault, but his squad's and the board's for selling important players. Even though it might be down to the manager to find a good replacement, when a team is fixated to one special playter and that player leaves... Chaos.
While this goes hand in hand with the former point, it deserves its own. The player material of a squad is evidently vital for the team's success. If an important player is missing, everything just falls apart. In Klopp's system, a reliable striker was needed. While they created lots of chances they just couldn't score and that became a bit of a curse. Sure, the defenders didn't do their jobs too well, but their support from midfield was lacking. Basically, Klopp's last year at BVB was a complete mess. No building defensive midfielder, no box-to-box-ish midfielder and no reliable attacking threat either. Plus, Weidenfeller just wasn't as good. At 'Gladbach, Favre missed a midfielder to play alongside Granit Xhaka, With the Swiss international being the baller in midfield as well as a defensive midfielder, he needed someone who could transport the ball from defence to attack. Now he had to do that all by himself and left a gap in defence when he attacked. When Dahoud came along, the team just fixed itself and Xhaka could play defensive playmaker again. At Schalke, the very same thing is missing. Geis has to do everything and Weinzierl has given both Goretzka and Meyer the wrong roles as well as putting faith in Naldo. They need to scrap Bentaleb and play Goretzka-Geis or else things will fall apart even more.
3. The board.
Selling key players is never a good choice and even if a choice wasn't there, a good replacement would have been decent. Both BVB and Borussia have great boards, Schalke as well (well, at least now), but they might need to consult the coaches before buying someone for a change.
editor, teutophiliac, but first and foremost the duke of Bavaria*
*Axel calls his own house "Bavaria". Just allow it.