If there’s one team that needs a winter break, it’s Borussia Dortmund. Winless in their last six matches, one win in their last eight Bundesliga matches, BVB will welcome the break from action. The month of December has seen Dortmund win the Champions League Group of Death, but also elimination from the German Cup, and a free-fall in the Bundesliga table. While Dortmund have secured fifth place through the winter break, we’re left wondering what, exactly, is going wrong. How is Dortmund a place ahead of their sixth place Hindrunde finish last term?
This was a symbolic match in more than one way. The crowd showed up and the children’s choir singing Amazing Grace was a wonderful way to begin the match. This was Edin Terzic’s redemption match. It was a draw at home against Mainz last spring that sealed Dortmund’s title-less fate. Now, on Dortmund’s 114th birthday, they still couldn’t do it. The draw also feels symbolic of Dortmund’s development since the end of last season. Have Dortmund gotten worse? It’s debatable. Have they gotten better? Certainly not.
If you were confused by Terzic’s choice of substitutions, then you are not alone. Süle in for Hummels at halftime? Sure, that’s fine. I don’t know if Mats picked up a knock or if Terzic just wanted fresh legs. I was quite surprised, however, at the introduction of Bamba and Haller, removing Füllkrug and Bynoe-Gittens. JBG had been the most threatening player after Brandt, and he dribbled around Mainz players on numerous occasions. We all know Haller has been struggling, so was this the right time to put him in to build confidence? Samuel Bamba has looked promising, but why use him instead of Marco Reus or Gio Reyna, when the squad desperately needed an experienced impact player to shift the momentum. When Reyna did come in, it was for Thomas Meunier- defense for attack. From that point on, Dortmund looked as likely to win this match as they did to lose it. I don’t care for gamble-tactics, unless it’s in stoppage time. Even then, only in certain circumstances. Yet this has felt like a trend through the first half of the season, and maybe we saw it with Coulibaly’s debut last season too, but Terzic’s substitutions have felt more like blind optimism than tactical acumen.
Terzic still has the backing of CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke, but fans are beginning to ask questions. My concern with the notion of sacking Terzic lies in the availability of potential replacements. Recent rumors suggest Oliver Glasner could take over if things go south, but would Glasner really improve this squad? He might offer a different perspective than the current coaching staff, but I’d argue he’s still a mid-table manager. There’s Hansi Flick, but is that the right move? And Julian Naglesman will doubtfully want to undertake the BVB project with the Euros coming up this summer. If Terzic were to be replaced, I think it needs to be by an established, reputable manager. Terzic has turned things around before, and he certainly could do so again. He’s taken this club on two unprecedented win-streaks, even if that doesn’t look like anything set to happen this season. It’s disappointing when Dortmund enter the winter break in such lackluster fashion. I fear if Dortmund can’t turn things around, this club will be fighting for the Europa Conference League spot by the end of the season.
What are your thoughts?