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The Optimist’s Corner, 1st Edition

Not all is lost—Hear me out.

VfL Bochum 1848 v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

It’s been a dumpster fire of a weekend after poor transfer business and a lackluster start to the new Bundesliga campaign. With reports from Ruhn Nachrichten, BVB Newsblog and Patrick Berger all painting a damning portrait of the current hierarchy of BVB, it’s hard NOT to think Dortmund is in a complete crisis. There has been so much negativity and criticism (much of it warranted) from the fan base that I think it’s worth looking at the bright side of things. Like Yash, I’m trying to view the situation as a ‘glass half full.’ If we’re all stuck in an echo chamber of negativity, then this is going to be a very long International break.

Veteran Players

No one is arguing that the team has looked outstanding this term, but I do suggest that our squad has retained some individual quality. Julian Brandt, when playing through the middle, looks to have maintained his heightened form from last season. His goal against Heidenheim isn't the first we’ve seen him score like that- out of the air while turning. It’s impressive. He seems to be our most creative player at the moment and I expect that to continue.

Mats Hummels is aging, yes. We need another defender, yes. Thankfully Mats has brought his A-Game. Against Köln, he made 139 successful passes (95%), won seven aerial duals and even had an xG of 1.3. He may be 34, but he’s still playing like he’s 31. When he’s fit, this team will need him.

Gregor Kobel is a big reason why Dortmund has not lost a match yet. He’s one of the best keepers in this league and he never fails to surprise with his shot-stopping abilities. There was little he could have done to save either of Heidenheim’s goals last weekend. My point here, is that we HAVE retained some phenomenal individual quality.

In regard to Emre Can, and the reports of Terzic choosing to back Can over a move for Edson Alvarez, let’s put ourselves in Edin’s shoes for just a moment. Entering last summer, Emre Can had become arguably one of BVB’s strongest players, especially in the second half of the season. Can identifies with the club AND commands enough respect from his teammates to be named Captain. Hindsight might be 20/20, and Can’s performances have not been up to the BVB standard, but if I had been in Terzic’s shoes, I would have also backed Emre Can at the beginning of the summer. Maybe you would have too?

VfL Bochum 1848 v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga
Gregor Kobel continues to impress with his shot-stopping
Photo by Ralf Ibing - firo sportphoto/Getty Images

The New Boys

Players take time to settle, we have to accept this. Sabitzer was a late signing but he’s looked the most promising of the lot. Sabitzer brings physicality to the midfield and a work-rate that is admirable. I do think there is some promise in the Sab-Can-Brandt midfield. Bensebaini has not looked completely terrible- His defending (for the most part) has impressed. He seems to be good at winning challenges. While his passing has been subpar, I expect this to improve as the squad becomes more organized.

Felix Nmecha is the most curious of the summer signings- I don't want to talk about his off-field opinions, but I do want to point out the high level of expectation that comes with a player who cost €30 Million. We’re going to be more critical of Nmecha than Bensebaini simply because of what Nmecha has cost the club. We haven't yet seen the potential we’ve been told he possesses, but it’s not only Edin Terzic who believes in the young German. Hansi Flick still picked Nmecha to represent Germany in the current break. Nmecha was chosen over Bayern’s Leon Goretzka, so perhaps Felix does possess something special that will hopefully bloom in the coming months.

The move for Füllkrug makes no sense on paper, when we’ve already got Haller and Moukoko, but as I’ve been saying from the start, it feels like there's something we don’t know. Haller has looked atrocious in the opening matches. Is something going on with him? We can criticize the decision to sign Füllkrug, but as a player, he’s talented and he’s played with several of BVB’s German players. He seems like a pretty humble and nice guy, so let’s cheer him on and maybe he’ll even bag us a few goals as our starting striker?

Borussia Dortmund v 1. FC Heidenheim 1846 - Bundesliga
Marcel Sabitzer had been the most promising of BVB’s summer signings
Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Unrealistic Expectations

I’ll be the first to admit that I expected Dortmund to start the season guns akimbo, with the league loss behind them. But is the league loss behind them? There’s a lot of pressure to outperform last season’s squad and challenge for the title again; If there’s one thing we know about Dortmund in recent years, they falter under pressure.

Jude Bellingham was an irreplaceable midfielder and neither Nmecha nor Sabitzer fit the same playing profile, nobody does. The team needs to adapt but we can't expect any of our players to become the next Jude Bellingham, it’s simply not realistic.

Last season, we had 6-points at this stage from two wins and one loss. This season we have 5-points from two draws and a win. Last season we were in sixth place at the winter break and finished tied on points with first-place-Bayern. The season is NOT over and there is plenty of time to right the ship so to speak.

There are a lot of questions being asked of Watzke, Kehl, and Terzic, but I still believe there is something we don’t yet know. The reports don’t leave much room for optimism, but if we’re calling this a ‘crisis,’ then it’s good this is happening early in the season and before the winnable Champions League matches.

VfL Bochum 1848 v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga
Mats Hummels is still a vital member of BVB’s squad
Photo by Ralf Ibing - firo sportphoto/Getty Images

Rallying Cry

We’re not helping one another with all of this negativity. Dortmund deserves a lot of criticism for their transfer dealings and poor start to the season, I’m not arguing that. But Dortmund’s situation is NOT unique to Borussia Dortmund. Every manager is loved by the fans... until they’re not. This is a normal part of football because results matter more than anything else, in the end.

I’m not in the “Terzic Out” camp... yet. Like I said, I still think there are things we don't know, behind the scenes, and the reports from RN, BVB Newsblog and Patrick Berger have raised more questions than answers- why would Terzic be given so much transfer power immediately after Sebastian Kehl had convinced players like Niklas Süle and Nico Schlotterbeck to choose BVB over Bayern the summer before? That just doesn't make sense.

So I’d like to give all parties involved the benefit of the doubt until we have ALL of the facts, and I’m sure that we’ll see many more reports in the coming weeks.

So my call to action for everyone is to consider the positives of our squad and club right now and share them in the comments. This may be a trying few weeks as Dortmund fans, but we’ll get through it like we always do—Together.

Keep your heads up, fam.