With Borussia Dortmund coach Peter Bosz under intense pressure, Terry Duffelen examines the options available for the club when deciding whether or not to make a change at the top.
Given the positions between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 before the Revierderby last Saturday, would BVB have settled for a point before the start of the game? Given Borussia’s five game winless streak it is possible that their coach, Peter Bosz, may have been happy with a face saving draw against their bitter rivals who are in the somewhat unfamiliar position of being above them in the table.
That said, while the coach may have swallowed a point, the fans would most certainly have not. Moreover, to go 4-0 up and with the club’s official Twitter account hubristically posting gifs of Ömer Toprak sipping tea at half-time only to then blow that lead in the second half, the fans were furious. The pressure on Bosz is such that most expect him to be replaced, sooner or later. Sooner if Dortmund lose to Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.
The fact that Bosz is still in post is down to a number of factors: Firstly it is simply not cool to sack a coach after a terrible result against your number one rival. It gives the impression that it was the rival that caused the sacking and makes the firing club look even weaker than they are already.
Secondly, the day after the game was the club’s AGM. A hugely important event in which key figures at the top of the club seek re-election. Normally this is a relatively straightforward affair but to hold an event of this nature amidst such turmoil is unwise.
Thirdly (and this is stretching things a bit) the current winless run looks bad but and has certainly scuppered any chance of a parade around Borsigplatz with the salad bowl. However, there is still plenty of time left in the season to finish in the Champions League spots. The campaign is not, by any means a right-off and it’s not time to panic… just yet. This brings me to my final point which is that the field is not exactly lush with replacements.
When the name Armin Veh is being bandied around as a possible replacement coach then the incumbent should feel a little less insecure, for now. Hiring the 56 year old is not the most absurd idea. After all, Felix Magath is back on the market. Veh would almost certainly be a short term appointment but even so, his recent record is patchy. He had unconvincing stints at Eintracht Frankfurt and Stuttgart (where he had previously been very successful) and you have to ask if he could offer a steadying hand to a club, if not in crisis, then at the very least in a state of flux.
Current Hoffenheim coach, Julian Nagelsmann, has also been named as a potential replacement BVB boss. However, there are still question marks about his future in relation to Bayern Munich who will have to look beyond Jupp Heynkes at some point. Also, the 30 year old phenom is himself going through some tough times of his own. TSG have only one win in the last seven Bundesliga games and that victory was against Cologne which barely counts. Nagelsmann’s rise has been truly impressive but this is his first crisis. How he deals with it will define just how good a coach he is and will become. Now is not really the time for him to be changing clubs. Hoffenheim’s de facto owner, Dietmar Hopp, will give Nagelsmann time and he needs to see things through in Sinsheim.
In the summer, Dortmund could look to Hannes Wolf. The current Stuttgart coach is young, coping admirably with his newly promoted team and up until last year was the Borussia Under 19 coach. His lack of experience would be an issue but Dortmund should not allow their self-perception as a big European club to prevent them from appointing young coaches. Huddersfield Town’s David Wagner is similarly connected with Dortmund. The clubs would also do well to have a think about Manuel Baum at Augsburg and perhaps Sandro Schwartz at Mainz.
For the present however, the club’s CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke is in a quandary. Does he fire now or later? This is why the game against Leverkusen is about more than just three points. If Bosz can mastermind an away win against a team that has not lost a Bundesliga match since 20 September, then the pressure will be eased and there will be time to consider more options. Perhaps Lucien Favre will become available again. Perhaps Bosz can turn things around. If, however, Dortmund return from the BayArena empty handed, as is quite likely, the pressure is back on and a drastic decision is more likely to be made.