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The Fear the Wall Argument Board: Should Edin Terzic Continue as BVB’s Head Coach?

In what may become a series, I’ll give the readers inside access to the typical FTW writer’s discourse.

Borussia Moenchengladbach v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga Photo by Marco Donato/Borussia Dortmund/Getty Images

Hello, readers!

As many of you know, we have a good few writers for Fear the Wall, many of us with different opinions and viewpoints on anything and everything BVB. To coordinate our work and bounce ideas off each other, we use Slack, but sometimes our conversations about the club leave the publishing page and start slinging around in the chat. This weekend, Paul and Yash really got into it over Edin Terzic and frankly, I thought it was a great conversation! So I decided to share it with you.

Anders kicked off the conversation with his post-match observations when he said, “...liking Terzić and him being a good coach are two separate things. I want him to succeed more than anyone, but I also won’t allow myself to be blinded by “The Terzić Story”, because no player or coach is greater than the club...”

Yash: I’d say that the lack of “plan”right now is just Terzić finding his feet as a manager. Arteta’s first two seasons were consecutive 8th-place finishes, as the squad was (like ours) in a period of transition from one identity to another. Individual tactical errors were common there. The lack of offensive continuity Anders is pointing to might be contributed to by the loss of our central striker (Haller), a myriad of injury problems (including Reus and Mo Dahoud), and underperforming attacking players (Donny and Karim), as well as the hyperintensity of this season (which has never happened before). While Terzić is not entirely blameless (he is the manager after all, and I think his squad rotation has been poor), he has been dealt an extremely tough hand for any manager’s first proper job. Throwing on extra forward players does serve to make the team more direct (and we have lacked cohesion in midfield when Mo and Reus aren’t playing, so going direct seems the best solution). I’d agree that it hasn’t worked, but he seems to have limited weapons at his disposal as well.

Paul: I think Arteta’s plan was very clear when he first joined Arsenal, it just wasn’t being executed brilliantly and it wasn’t always working. That’s the big difference. Terzić doesn’t seem to have a plan. It’s little more than trying to build a defensive structure (and this is failing) and then hoping the offensive players figure it out.

I think comparisons with Arteta are convenient because it’s an example of a guy that was given time and has worked it out. But it’s not a good comparison. There are plenty of examples of managers being given time and it not working. There are guys like Lampard and (to some extent) Solskjaer that didn’t have particularly clear plans, and those projects were eventually abandoned because it wasn’t good enough.

And I do agree that he hasn’t inherited a brilliant situation. The injuries, Haller’s long-term absence, and the congested schedule are all real issues. But I think there’s still been a lack of progress under Terzić. He hasn’t seemed able to identify the problems and generate meaningful solutions.

Yash: I think the difference to the Solskjaer and Lampard situations is the club culture. Terzić hasn’t quite had the opportunity to build an offensive plan, because pieces keep failing (Haller, Reus, Donny, Karim, Mo, Tony) for one reason or another, but he does seem to be putting steps in the right direction with Brandt and Mouki (and the fact that the team has looked more resilient in the face of bigger opposition). He’s also not had the time; six English weeks in a row means that any tactical adjustment can be minor at most, as there isn’t really enough time. I think that if we are to evaluate his overall performance, it should not be on the basis of this half-season.

Paul: I think you evaluate performance based on what you’ve got, and up to now it isn’t good enough. And I don’t really see the relevance of club culture here.

Yash: The “club culture” point was in reference to Chelsea and United’s different approaches when compared to BVB, resulting in different priorities. This is true, you do evaluate based on what you have, but when the situation is extreme, I’m inclined to make allowances. This is by no means a normal season, so I wouldn’t like to rush to judgment based on it. Give him a normal season (and less bad luck), and then let’s assess.

Paul: Our priority isn’t having a great pal as manager. It’s making the Champions League. And we don’t have a normal season. We’ve got this. So you have to work from this.

Yash: We’re alive in both the Champions League and the Pokal and within touching distance of a champions league spot. Not sure how the “great pal” thing is relevant here. I want a successful manager, but it will take time and this season is something of a baptism of fire.

Paul: Yes, the fact we’re in touching distance is the reason I don’t think they should get rid of him. But the fact we’ve got to make up that ground at all is a problem, and I think people would acknowledge that if Terzić wasn’t Terzić. Folks are very willing to forgive a lot with him that they wouldn’t with others. That’s my frustration. Hold him accountable. It’s his job, and he’s not doing that well right now.

Yash: I think it’s less about “Terzić being Terzić” and more about the club explicitly putting faith in him as a long-term project, with the knowledge that things are happening off the pitch that are beyond the manager’s control more so than previous years. Do I think he’s been great? No. Do I think we look boring? Yes. Has his squad rotation been bad? Also yes. I’d agree he’s been bad (and we’ve been bad), but given the circumstances, it’s entirely understandable. Give him time is all.

Paul: Fans are reluctant to criticize him because he is a fan. The club may be backing him because they see something. But as of yet, I don’t really see what that is, and that’s a problem. And I’ve literally stated that he should be given longer. I just think people should be prepared to criticize this shit more and acknowledge that he is in danger if things don’t improve.

Yash: All agreed, except for the “in danger” part. He needs time and the club is prepared to give it to him. I don’t really have much of a problem with individual criticisms of his management (several of which are warranted), but the wholesale “he’s in danger”/”we should start to look elsewhere” is where I take issue.

Paul: So it’s bad but he’s fine.

Yash: It’s bad right now, but we should be prepared for that. Sit tight, give him time and let Kehl do his thing in the summer (and winter, possibly), and I think we might be talking about a different BVB in a season or so.

Paul: Yeah, I don’t believe that anyone would be making that argument if Terzic wasn’t a fan.

Yash: I don’t think anyone would make that argument if the board hadn’t said explicitly that this is a long-term thing, and they are ready to sacrifice short-term success for it. Fan or not a fan isn’t relevant to me.

Paul: I’m sure everyone would say that. But implicit biases exist. I think him being a fan is unquestionably buying him a lot of good faith. As Anders said, we’ve not seen enough from Terzic to believe that he’s going to fix things.

Yash: That’s fair about the implicit biases. I’m just struggling to see what everyone expected from this half-season. The squad is turning over, our main goalscoring threat has departed and not been replaced, etc. Looking at individual performances, however, Süle has been really good for a while now, Hummels looks reborn, Kobel and Brandt have been incredible, Jude has reached a far higher level, and Mouki is playing with much more confidence. I really think he’s beginning to bring out the best in at least some of the players. My biggest problem with Terzić is his bad squad rotation, but I also think a lack of depth might contribute to it.

Paul: I expect better than sixth. And for all the individual growth (some of which are just good players looking good, but others Terzić does get credit for), if the team looks poor, that’s a much bigger deal.

And then I came in to really add to something really intelligent...

Zac: I think we need Schürrle back.

So that’s what went down in the aftermath of the Borussia Monchengladbach game. What do you think, who won that argu..conversation? Was either of them able to change your opinion? Let us know.