Thomas Tuchel has received his fair share of criticism over the past couple weeks from the media as well as some fans. It got to a point where some wondered if the BVB coach might even be on the hot seat, if his team lost Saturday's clash against RB Leipzig. Dortmund played well, won, and are still on-pace for a top-4 finish in the Bundesliga and everything is well again in the Revier, right? Well not so fast.
Some BVB fans are still unimpressed with our young coach and the media (especially the German outlets) still try to dig some holes for him. The question is why?
Some unrealistic expectations
Last season, Thomas Tuchel's first year in charge, Borussia Dortmund played the second best season in club history if you look at the statistics. The black and yellows were able to amass 78 points, a feat that was only bested in the 2011/12 season when Dortmund won their second Bundesliga title of the Klopp era. If it weren't for a historically great season played by the Bavarians, Dortmund would've won their ninth Bundesliga title.
In addition they played in the DFB Cup final where they barely lost to Bayern Munich after penalties, and were screwed by the referee after Ribery wasn’t sent off after poking Castro in the eye.
It was a season with a lot of ups and very few downs. Albeit there were a few; like the 1-5 defeat in Munich and the inconceivable loss against Liverpool. But as far as first seasons go, Tuchel had quite a good one in Dortmund.
Following that awful 14/15 season and Klopp's dismissal some started to wonder if BVB would be able to recover. Some players were gone, the star coach was gone and it seemed like yet another team had tried to challenge Bayern only to disappear as quickly as they came.
But Dortmund did recover, after the disaster that was the last season of the Klopp era and the resurgence under Tuchel the following year, the fans wanted to get back to the top as quickly as possible and all of those achievements naturally raised the expectations for this season.
A fateful summer
Mats Hummels, Ilkay Gündogan and Henrikh Mkhitaryan all left. Just months after CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke promised this wouldn't happen, it happened. Arguably Dortmund's three best players from last season all left at once and even worse our captain Mats Hummels joined Bayern Munich.
As replacements Tuchel wanted Ömer Toprak, Mahmoud Dahoud and Karim Bellarabi and got none of them. Instead we signed a bunch of exciting yet inexperienced youngsters (Dembélé, Mor, Guerreiro) and a few more experienced players that all needed a fresh start after being either squad-players or injured for their previous clubs (Rode, Bartra, Götze, Schürrle). Now instead of having to rebuild in his first year with the club, Tuchel had to start a rebuild in his second year which is unusual.
However the expectations stayed the same. BVB fans still wanted the title or at least a serious challenge for it, especially after Pep Guardiola left and Bayern themselves were in some kind of rebuild.
An injury-plagued season
After a promising start we all had a rude awakening and came to a quick realization, this is not gonna be a championship season. The injury bug hit, and it hit hard. Several big-name players went down and the youngsters were just too inconsistent to challenge for the title this season.
Thomas Tuchel had to consistently replace about seven or eight players while trying to compete in three different competitions. I can't even remember the last time we played with the same line-up in two consecutive games. And yet through all of this, Tuchel was still able to keep this team on track for a top-4 finish (a CL-qualifying spot), in the hunt for the German Cup and qualified for the round of 16 of the Champions League ahead of Real Madrid no less.
He is still statistically the best BVB coach in history with 2.1 points per game in the Bundesliga, he still hasn't lost a Bundesliga game at the Signal-Iduna Park(!) and the black and yellows are currently on an unbeaten streak of 18 games.
Instead of getting praise for what he achieved, he "earned" the scrutiny of some fans and experts. Just as a quick comparison, we had a similar injury-plagued season not to long ago and during that season I don't remember Dortmund competing for a CL-spot, instead BVB were battling relegation for the better part of that season.
Thomas Tuchel isn't perfect. He made some mistakes during the Hinrunde that cost us points, in other games the inconsistencies of the youngsters cost us or inexplicable individual mistakes by some players let the team down.
However I truly believe that there is no better coach out there for our team right now. The Leipzig-game might have been a first indication of things to come. The team is finally healthy and firmly outplayed the second-placed team in the Bundesliga. Don't judge him by the unrealistic expectations we had before the season. Let the man work and he'll get us a title sooner rather than later.