Thomas Tuchel, not Hans-Joachim Watzke, wanted to play the day after the infamous bus bombing in 2017, according to German television station n-tv, which appears to have gained early access to Pit Gottschalk’s new book, “Kabinengeflüster.” The book’s title translates to “Lockerroom Whispers,” and is apparently heavily reliant on anonymous sources.
It is understood that Gottschalk writes in his book that after UEFA decided that the game would be played the day following the bombing, that Tuchel was initially not against the decision, and was, in-fact, slightly happy about it, citing the potential “energy in the stadium.” According to the book, it was Watzke who stood by the side of the players, who were aggrieved by the decision, and allegedly still gave the players an option to not play in the game. Dortmund would go onto lose that game 3-2 at home against Monaco, and eventually fell 6-3 on aggregate.
Allegedly, the next morning in the locker room, Marco Reus and Gonzalo Castro went to Tuchel and expressed concerns about playing the Champions League game that day. According to an anonymous player, as the discussion transitioned into a debate and several players started crying, Tuchel said “Mit diesen Weicheiern soll ich die Bayern schlagen?”, which translates to, “With these (wimps), I am supposed to beat Bayern?”
In an interview after the game, it was Tuchel who stated that “we weren’t asked at all at any time (about whether to proceed with the game),” and “basically, we had the feeling that we were being treated as if a beer can had hit our bus, and half an hour later the decision was there.”
The first of those comments insinuates, potentially cynically, that Watzke signed off on the UEFA match being the next day. The book offers a direct contradiction, and says Watzke was backing the player’s desire to postpone the match, potentially threatening a withdrawal from the competition.
According to Gottschalk, each sentence that Tuchel elaborated on about how he was supporting the players and how Watzke did not attempt to negotiate with UEFA was a slap to Watzke. Watzke had previously contradicted that narrative but did not go as far as pinning the blame on Tuchel, saying in an interview in May “I gave the team the option in our talk on the Wednesday morning [the day of the rescheduled match] that every player feeling not capable of playing could just say it until the afternoon.”
When interviewed further about a potential disagreement with Tuchel, Watzke responded, “It is so, yes.”
It is understood that the manner in how Tuchel handled the bus bombing formed both the rifts that started forming with players in the locker room, on top of the open rift with Watzke and Dortmund’s front office. Following the bombing endeavor, players did speak out against Tuchel’s coaching style or methods, but nothing particularly included the bombing. But Tuchel’s problems in controlling the locker room are now said to have originated from those particular events.