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Kloppo Cultists and the Tuchel Out Crowd

Opinion Piece

Real Madrid CF v Borussia Dortmund - UEFA Champions League Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

I am not from Dortmund. I am not a season-ticket holder. I am not even German nor do I follow German-language media extensively. But I am aware that there is a large segment of Dortmunders who are very discontent with the reign of Thomas Tuchel at the Westfalenstadion. I will not speak of them in this piece. I will however, take issue with similar clamor from English-language voices who have expressed not just angst but outright hostility toward the current manager as well as my interpretation for this kind of behavior.

First of all, I love Jürgen Klopp. It was his antics and charisma as a manager as well as the style and commitment he got from his players that attracted me to Dortmund to begin with. I loved how he got ridiculed by the English media for getting his Liverpool squad up in front of the Kop to line up and salute them following a match. But I am also aware that he is the exception and not the rule. For every single Jürgen Klopp and Antonio Conte, there are a myriad of other engaging, charismatic managers in football that you have never heard of. Most often, the best managers in the world, not to mention, the most forward thinking and winningest are the Pep Guardiolas, Jose Mourinhos, and Alex Fergusons. Intellectual, sometimes petulant, always a bit prickly, and would always choose to win versus be loved by fans. Thomas Tuchel is not Jürgen Klopp. He was not hired to be Jürgen Klopp. He was hired to keep Dortmund in the Champions League places during his tenure, contend regularly for the DFB Pokal, potentially contend for the Championship against Bayern, and make advances into the Champions League knock-out stages. Thus far, over almost two seasons, he has regularly met those challenges.

I think the angst and hostility directed against Tuchel is largely due to the over-attachment fans held to Klopp and his successes. Like a cult, many fans were unable to cope with Klopp’s departure and the shift toward a new regime, a new style, and a new cadre of players. Hence not just the understandable grief for the departures of Kuba and Subotic, but the venomous hatred for Tuchel’s decision to part with those club icons that no longer played a role in his plans for the team. The focus became the personalities within the club rather than the successes on the field.

Certainly we supporters of Borussia Dortmund wish to maintain a tradition and club ethos to maintain a sense of authenticity in this era of change, but this is largely in the hands of the club’s directors Watzke, Rauball, and Zorc. It is they incorporating the voice of the club membership that determine this direction and charge their manager to produce that on the field of play. Tuchel was hired to do that, not to be the head cheerleader.

Lastly, just to appease those who would love to see Tuchel leave, I’ll leave this question: “If not Tuchel, then who?” There is only one Jürgen Klopp, only one Antonio Conte, only one Diego Simeone and they’re all very gainfully employed in far wealthier clubs than ours. Stop focusing on the past and look toward the future.