Just over a week has passed since Borussia Dortmund let the title slip right into the hands of Bayern Munich. Even though I consider myself to be a cheerful, positive person, I must admit that the defeat sat like a rock in me for at least 72 hours after the match. Over the past couple of days, my thoughts about the result of the season haven’t changed: It still sucks.
What’s funny to me about this whole title debacle is that although the result itself stings a lot, there’s a strong feeling of hope combatting that empty title-loss-feeling within me. Ever since the loss, I have seen many people calling for Watzke’s, Kehl’s, and even Terzic’s head. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t quite understand why.
In this article, I’ll try to explain why I think some of the accusations made towards the people in charge of our club are ill-founded, and how I also feel completely opposite about some of the most prominent accusations made by fans of the club. I would very much like this to be the basis of a discussion about how FTW as a community feels about the state of the club, and I therefore invite you to share your thoughts about these topics in the comments. Now let’s turn some accusations upside down!
Claim: Watzke should have been fired a long time ago, and he’s the main reason we aren’t winning anything
My answer: Watzke is among the best CEOs in world football, and he has made BVB bigger and better than ever
Ah yes, Hans-Joachim Watzke, the always talked-about Managing Director of Borussia Dortmund. I think a lot of the hate towards Watzke is born from his sorta cold and factual approach to anything regarding BVB. And I can understand why a statement about how Dortmund needs to overperform and Bayern needs to underperform in order for BVB to win a title might not be well-received among fans; but honestly, I don’t see anything wrong with it. If you wanna run a successful football club, you need people who understand how huge, global businesses are run. You need people with an understanding of football (Kehl, Terzic, and co.), and you need people to make sure your business runs smoothly (Watzke and Kramer). Now, Watzke has been in charge of BVB for over 20 years, and in that time, he has done a tremendous job. He has saved BVB from the brink of death and restored the club to a competitive unit within European football year after year.
I honestly think we take for granted what Watzke has done (and still does). Running a football club is not easy. Just look at Hamburg, Schalke, and Hertha Berlin as German examples. Outside of the German borders, you’ll find a lot of big clubs that are severely mismanaged — Barcelona, Juventus, and Tottenham being just a few examples. One of the hardest tasks for a football club is to remain consistent and sustainable while undergoing constant changes in squads, coaches, and backroom staff. In my opinion, Watzke has excelled in keeping BVB a healthy club while continuously having a strong squad that can pose a challenge against some of the best teams in Europe. Watzke and Zorc did an outstanding job in easing Sebastian Kehl into his new role as Sporting Director, and though many fans feared that Kehl would not be able to replicate Zorc’s brilliant record, he is in the middle of doing exactly that.
It must also not be forgotten that Watzke is operating under drastically different circumstances than the rest of Europe. While the Premier League is getting pumped with money by the minute, for what it’s worth, Watzke has been slowly building up BVB to the point where we can now afford to bring in players like Sébastien Haller and Edson Álvarez without threatening the economic foundation of the club. Beyond the club's newfound financial reach, Watzke, Kehl, Kramer, and co. have also succeeded in creating a great club brand that players wanna be a part of. Furthermore, Watzke deserves credit for having established and maintained numerous great connections with clubs all over Europe. Don’t take it for granted that BVB can do transfer business with basically every club out there because it’s not the case for everyone.
One thing that’s not talked enough about is also how BVB have been somewhat successful in entering the global market. The USA tours and Asia tours have been overall successful, and when we can’t get financially doped like the rest of Europe because of the German footballing landscape, we can do it the old-fashioned way, with on-the-ground brand growth and sponsorship hunting. It has worked wonders as you can read in some of the most recent annual reports from the club. If you need further proof, a quick look at the Deloitte Money League will quickly tell you that BVB is one of the best-run clubs in Europe.
No — we currently can’t afford the likes of Florian Wirtz, Kai Havertz, or Joško Gvardiol, but if you have paid attention during the last three or four seasons, BVB are slowly winding up to the point where we can start bringing in established elite players — and that’s without the risk of doing a Schalke. Watzke is a patient, calculated man, and we need those in our club. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at what’s happening over at FC Bayern, who have just fired their entire board and pissed money away on multiple big-name players they aren’t using.
Claim: Terzic is an unproven manager who lacks tactical depth
My answer: We have one of the best young managers in Europe in our hands, and even better than that, he’s an actual Borusse
I feel this one has been toned down a bit during the second half of the season, and then suddenly reignited again once BVB lost the final game against Mainz. Terzic has often been criticized for lacking tactical depth, and while his seniority as a first-team coach clearly suggests so, he has also accomplished something no other manager has accomplished in the last 10 years — and that’s in his first year.
- He has led the team on a 10-game winning run — the best in the club's history.
- In the second half of the season, he managed to make BVB the best attacking team in all of Europe (measured in goals).
- He won the second half of the season in the Bundesliga by 10 points.
- He has lost only one home game in his maiden season (outside of a freak accident against Bremen).
- He has done an amazing job with individual players such as Brandt, Can, and Malen.
Terzic still has flaws. But honestly, unless you’re Guardiola, you do have flaws as a coach. Personally, I would currently prefer Terzic over a lot of elite managers in Europe. He has an absolute immense potential as a coach, and I think it was best showcased in the two matches against Manchester City in the Champions League. Of course, Terzic should also take some blame for our harsh slip-ups this season, but honestly, all teams have slip-ups. After the slip-up against Stuttgart, the team responded well to a similar situation in a tough away match against Augsburg. I trust Terzic to be the right man to sort out our current wrinkles, and as far as we know, he and Kehl are already in the process of finding just the players to do so.
Claim: There will probably be another 10 years before BVB can challenge for a title again
My answer: BVB are in the perfect condition to challenge Bayern yet again next year
I’ve seen many people complain that this was a once in a lifetime chance to win the title. And I could not disagree more. Actually, I think BVB are perfectly set up to challenge for the title again next year. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I honestly believe a lot of things are pointing in that exact direction.
In a recent interview with BILD, Watzke emphasized that BVB were ready to take up the title fight next season. To many, it seems kinda trivial, as BVB is the second largest team in Germany and therefore should be able to challenge the giants from Bavaria. And I do agree with some of you that Watzke has been a bit too reluctant and cautious in terms of stating that BVB can (and will) fight for a title, but as I mentioned earlier in this article, this recent statement is a product of many years of good management.
Kehl is already in full swing with the latest acquisition of Rami Bensebaini and the ongoing negotiations with Edson Alvarez. The sporting team has also made a hard (but somewhat necessary) decision in letting Raphael Guerreiro leave for free. It shows that the management knows it exactly what they want and won’t keep players around just because they’re very good footballers — they also need to fit the system.
Meanwhile, Bayern Munich currently have no sporting director, they can’t offload Sadio Mané, while the future of players such as Benjamin Pavard, Lucas Hernandez and Alphonso Davies are up in the air. Adding to their problems, they’ll have a hard time finding the striker they desperately need, and they will probably end up overpaying massively for the one they might (or might not) get. Their goalkeeping position is also a big question mark, as no one is sure what condition Manuel Neuer will be in when he returns.
In addition, for the last four seasons, Bayern have been ending the season with fewer and fewer points, and there’s no indication that they’ll hit 90 points next season at all. Meanwhile, Dortmund are currently on an upwards trajectory, having just had one of their best runs in recent club history. In short, BVB have now managed to narrow the margin to the point where a title challenge isn’t just a dream. If we are to trust that Dortmund’s second half of the season is any indication of the way the team’s going, there are plenty of reasons to believe that they can challenge Bayern for a title or two next season.
Am I a hopeless romantic, a deluded idiot or a mix of the two? Or do you actually agree with my statements? Let me know in the comments below!