It is no mystery that I in particular and FTW in general have been big supporters of Thomas Tuchel. When the word of his firing… and I refuse to mince words, it was most definitely a sacking… emerged from Dortmund this morning, I was angry. I was mad, sad, depressed, and pretty much in a funk. Not because it was unexpected, but the culmination of a tabloid horror show of what should not happen at a well-run football club… especially one whose slogan translates to “True Love.”
There is plenty of blame to go around. Also, we would be insane to think we have all the facts of the situation. But I think we know enough to come to some conclusions and well, make some educated guesses.
1. Thank you Thomas Tuchel. Tuchel did a miraculous job with the situation that he had. He took over a team in decline from a massively popular coach with a cult-like following. He had a hiccup or two on the way (losses in big matches) but had a truly stellar season for his first year. His second year was arguably better in that he lost his three best players and club captain, imported a bunch of teenagers, and still managed to win the DFB Pokal, directly qualify for Champions League, make it to the Champions League quarterfinals, and beat Bayern two out of three meetings. This despite the personnel transition and an attempt to murder the entire club in the bombing.
2. There are a lot of reports, to include his previous history, that tell a story of Tuchel as a difficult coach, a favoritist, a mean character, dictatorial, humiliator of players, a teller of tales, and other less than complimentary qualities. Certainly, some of the reporters have had axes to grind with Tuchel, but where there is smoke, there certainly is fire. Generally, clubs with difficult managers (Jose Mourinho) continue their associations with each other so long as their sporting targets are set (Mourinho, and Guardiola to an extent). Not so this time with Dortmund. Was it truly that toxic that they had to go their separate ways? Had the affected players (my guess Nuri Sahin as the primary malcontent with Reus and Schmelzer secondary) threatened to force sales? How did Tuchel continue to get great performances from players who hated him?
3. Watzke is either not telling the whole story, or he is disingenuous as well. Aki Watzke is a legend for what he did to save Dortmund twelve or so years ago. That will never change. But it does not provide him a shield from all criticism, just as Arsene Wenger’s years of success should serve as one for him with Arsenal. Watzke gave an inflammatory interview that he knew would have a profoundly negative effect prior to a crucial match. What was his intent? Did he, as he said in his recent open letter to the club’s supporters, place the “club’s interest before his own?” I do not think so at all.
Those are my facts, assumptions, and educated guesses on this situation. What I fear is not necessarily a future without Thomas Tuchel, but the future of the club as a prime spot for ambitious managers and players who want to perform at the highest level. With so much still left unanswered, I fear those top players and top managers will not consider Dortmund as a place to come to.