Borussia Dortmund’s Future

With Jurgen Klopp having managed Borussia Dortmund for the final time in last week’s DFB Cup final, the club from Germany’s industrial heartland will have to start looking beyond a summer that is set to be shorter than usual. Essentially, last week’s cup final against Wolfsburg was an insight into the woes of Dortmund’s season. The club have performed well below standard and have failed to break into the Bundesliga’s top four, which would have taken Borussia into the Champions League. Instead, they will have to try qualifying for the Europa League group stages by sacrificing parts of their pre-season.

Unfortunately for the club, this looks to become a rather critical pre-season, simply based on the fact that, in Thomas Tuchel, a new manager is set to take over and as such, will need all the time available, in order to prepare the team for a make-or-break season of sorts. Tuchel is known for tactical prowess and is expected to add a new layer to Dortmund’s game. Whereas Klopp’s style was often based on a risky high-pressure approach, Tuchel is thought to be more balanced in his style. In other words, there is hope that Dortmund will be able to alternate between an all-attack mode and a more controlled approach.

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Tuchel already made the experience of stepping into Klopp’s shoes, when he was appointed Mainz manager in 2009, one year after Klopp’s departure for Dortmund. Tuchel as well as Klopp achieved a win-ratio of around 40% in Mainz, although Tuchel’s time at the club was exclusively spent in the top flight, arguably making his wins harder to achieve. It was also Thomas Tuchel, who achieved the two highest-ever table finishes in Mainz 05’s Bundesliga history, finishing 5th and 7th in 2011 and 2014 respectively.

The above is an obvious source of encouragement for the Borussia Dortmund faithful, who will be worried about Klopp’s unexpected departure. However, just as Klopp, in a way, turned out to be better for the club than Ottmar Hitzfeld, who led Dortmund to a Champions League triumph in 1997, Tuchel might surprise many by taking the club back to the top of the league. His management credentials are certainly not to be doubted.

Nevertheless, Dortmund will have a few issues to address. First of all, there is not a lot of money available for player purchases. In fact, it is believed that the club will only sanction total outgoings of around €18 million during the summer. Although, the sale of some players might free up more funds, there will not be enough money for a comprehensive overhaul. On the other hand, the team are definitely not in need of an overhaul, but only require some minor tweaks.

This season, Dortmund had the league’s 8th best attack, which is incredibly underwhelming for an attack-oriented approach. Obviously, this is an area, where changes might be needed. In addition to this, the central midfield position needs more consistency. The club had to deal with a lot of injuries this year, but that does not excuse such varying levels of midfield performance. In this respect, switching from defence to attack was a particular problem, but Kagawa’s recent improvements suggest that the Japanese international will be a key player next season.

Ultimately, the club’s supporters should regard this season as a blip, without expecting Thomas Tuchel to turn everything around in a matter of months. Instead, the significant change that has been made should be taken into account when things do not go too well. In this sense, Dortmund’s target for next season should be a top-four finish, which can be regarded as a realistic target, especially given the personnel that is available.