Ah, Thanksgiving, the proud American tradition of spending two hours in traffic on the way to your relatives’ house, arguing about politics, eating overcooked turkey, and watching two mediocre NFL afternoon games before falling into a food coma 15 minutes into the actual exciting game at night. While the holiday is basically a tribute to American gluttony at this point, it does at least theoretically have something of an underlying point, that you should be thankful for what you have, whether it be family, food, a decent football team, or simply a shelter to enjoy the holiday in.
The closest thing my family has to a Thanksgiving tradition is to go around the table and have everybody give something they’re thankful for. In that spirit, I thought we could do something similar for Borussia Dortmund. I find that a lot of the time, we BVB fans spend more time complaining about the team than we do being happy about how good we actually are. Can you imagine going to a Mainz, Hamburg, or Kaiserslautern fan and trying to explain to them your problems as a Dortmund fan? They’d probably laugh you out of the room! Anyway, here are a few things we FTW writers are thankful for this season:
I’m thankful for Raphael Guerreiro. The dude is a beast and nobody outside of the BVB fandom ever seems to notice, and do you know what? I like it that way. He may not rack up traditional statistics like goals and assists, but he’s an advanced stats machine. According to FBRef, Raphael Guerreiro is second on the team in shot-creating actions per 90 minutes, closely behind Jadon Sancho and far ahead of the rest of the pack. According to Understat, he’s second in the team in NPxG90 + NPxA90, and 9th in the entire league. And keep in mind - he’s a left back. He’s also show that he can show up to big games, as he has been excellent in the Champions League and was arguably the man of the match against Bayern Munich. If Borussia Dortmund do manage to win a trophy this season, it will be just as due to Guerreiro as anybody else.
Today I am thankful for Lucien Favre. He picked up the pieces after the disastrous 2017/18 season and returned BvB to its rightful place as challenger. On other days, many of us ask for more than that from coach Favre. But today, let’s remember the chaotic exit of Dembele, the short reign of Bosz and the tortured mediocrity of Stöger. There were no guarantees when Favre took over at Dortmund. Auba was gone and Sokratis followed him to the Europa League. Schurrle and Yarmolenko were busts, and Pulisic was already on his way out. Favre trusted Sancho and made him a world beater, restored Reus to prominence and made Alcacer a star for a year. That first season rode some luck, but also drew more top players to the team. Brandt, Hazard, Hummels, Can and Haaland all joined in the wake of that turnaround. Would they have come if the team was still floundering? This year, Favre has all the pieces in place, and with a little bit more luck, maybe something truly special can be achieved.
First and foremost, I’m thankful for the health and safety of my wife and I. It has been very difficult moving from one state (Michigan) to another (New York) and starting a new job right at the start of everything shutting down due to the COVID pandemic. I don’t know what I would have done or how I would be doing without my loving and supportive wife. I love you, Kaylee.
Now, shifting to Dortmund, I’m thankful for Michael Zorc and the scouting team getting us these amazing players. I mentioned this in my questions article yesterday, but we’ve gone from seeing players like Marius Wolf and Andriy Yarmolenko play to having such amazing talent like Axel Witsel, Jadon Sancho, Julian Brandt, Gio Reyna and, of course, Erling Haaland. Favre plays a big role in the success as he puts them in place to succeed, but they wouldn’t be in the squad without Zorc and company doing the leg work of monitoring, scouting, traveling, and communicating with these individuals.
So Papa Zorc, thank you.
I had a hard time working out what I’m thankful for about Dortmund. I don’t connect with players in the same way others do, and while I appreciate the job that management are doing, I don’t know that it stretches to being thankful. I’m probably just an ungrateful bastard, but if there’s anything I’m thankful for, it’s not the efforts made by any individual at the club, but for the high standards set across the board at BVB. I think we sometimes forget how much of a privilege it is to get to watch a team compete for trophies and win the vast majority of its games.
As many of you know, I’ve suffered a lifelong affliction with Southampton FC. Saints look pretty good so far this season, but these moments tend to be fleeting. It’s a real privilege getting to watch BVB and enjoy every game. It’s a privilege that the worst case scenario is not qualifying for Europe, as opposed to getting relegated or going bankrupt. I’m thankful for such a good team that is entertaining and competitive every single week. The vast majority of football clubs don’t have it so good!
Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Please stay safe.