According to Ruhr Nachrichten, the sporting team at Borussia Dortmund have decided to keep head coach Edin Terzic at the helm following a round of crisis talks. Despite the recent run of sub-satisfactory performances, CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has placed his faith in continuity to help the club out of the current slump, rather than a change.
Looking at the 30,000 foot view, you can understand why Watzke, as CEO, would elect to keep Terzic in charge. BVB’s rotating cast of managers over the last five plus years has not delivered results. Changing coaches mid-season wouldn’t be new for BVB, but the last time it actually yielded positive results was when it put Terzic in charge for his first stint. Maybe what BVB lacks is continuity, and in business, fluctuations have to be expected.
The question is, can you take a 30,000 foot view in football? In the case of Terzic, it’s hard to justify the “big picture”. Be it down to the truth of the situation or media manipulation, the situation around Edin Terzic has become increasingly personal. The poor results in the league have only added fuel to a fire that was started by accusations of special relationships, and fractured ones. Watzke has been vocal of his unwavering support for Terzic, with reports over the course of the Hindrunde essentially suggesting that there was nothing Terzic could do, short of falling into the relegation zone, that would get him sacked.
A premature dismissal of Edin Terzic would be a huge admission for Hans-Joachim Watzke. Even before the season, he gave his friend a job guarantee. Watzke does not want to let that go. Watzke also hates sackings during the season.— BVB Newsblog (@bvbnewsblog) December 17, 2023
Among some in the fanbase, this has been viewed as special treatment, and has led to accusations that the CEO is putting his strong relationship with Terzic at odds with the sporting success of the club.
Then there are the reports of personal spats within the squad. These reports are hard to decipher, because they seem to feed a strong media narrative about Terzic’s standing in the club. Whether this is founded in truth, or because BVB’s precarious sporting position makes them an easy media target, is hard to interpret. Still, let’s give them their fair due.
First is the suggestion that senior members of the BVB squad and team council have approached first Edin Terzic himself to complain about the tactics, and then CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke.
Admittedly, some of the names on this report, like Patrick Berger, are very reputable sources. Irlbacher and Berger go on to say that the players’ concerns have fallen on deaf ears, which is a poor reflection on the CEO. It seems that, as a result, the board may have even turned their ire against the players, putting them at fault for the poor results due to a lack of alignment with their coach.
The final shocking revelation reported out of all these admissions revolves around former captain and club legend Marco Reus. After the match against FC Augsburg, Reus stormed off the pitch and gave the cold shoulder to head coach Edin Terzic. Now there is speculation that Reus has been leading the charge against Terzic amongst the players, and could face backlash for the remainder of the season now that the coach has been confirmed to remain at the helm.
While this report seems the most likely to be fabricated, it is also (for this fan) the most concerning. Marco Reus is club heritage. His years of loyalty and outstanding performances have earned him the captain’s armband and the status of legend in the club’s history books. Even though he no longer sports the captaincy, his word still does (and should) carry tremendous weight around the club. A team should subscribe to the notion that no player is bigger than the club; that has been maintained at BVB even during the eras of Erling Haaland and Jude Bellingham. But if the club hierarchy would rather see a player who has given his everything to BVB ride the bench into retirement than investigate the validity of his claims, it raises serious concerns about where loyalties lie in this organization, and the strength of those loyalties.
Ultimately, Edin Terzic will remain. It will be firmly on the coach’s shoulders to turn results around and pay back the faith he has received from his employers. If he fails and, by extension, the team fails, eyes will turn toward club leadership to explain why, in the face of poor results, fractured team relationships, and immense fan pressure, Edin Terzic was allowed to continue to lead the team.