The shock slump of Klopp’s boys

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

GER­MAN gi­ants Borus­sia Dort­mund have been dis­mal in the first half of the sea­son – with Jur­gen Klopp’s side only look­ing com­fort­able in the Cham­pi­ons League group stages.

Die Borussen went into the Bun­desliga’s an­nual win­ter break in the rel­e­ga­tion places, with their top flight sta­tus cur­rently in the bal­ance. Only SC Freiburg are be­low Dort­mund in Ger­many’s top flight, although they sit on the same num­ber of points and goal dif­fer­ence as their ri­vals.

In fact, Klopp’s side have suf­fered the most amount of de­feats this sea­son, with Dort­mund hav­ing lost ten times this cam­paign. This is in stark con­trast to the club that most ex­pected them to chal­lenge for the cham­pi­onship, Bay­ern Mu­nich, who are still to lose this sea­son.

The club’s poor record has led to ques­tions be­ing raised about Klopp. The 47-year-old, who has been heav­ily linked in re­cent times to take over a club in the Premier League, was first ap­pointed in the sum­mer of 2008.

Since his ap­point­ment, Dort­mund have won the Bun­desliga ti­tle and DFL-Su­per­cup twice, the DFB-Pokal Cup once and been Cham­pi­ons League run­ners-up.

Klopp is the most suc­cess­ful man­ager in Borus­sia Dort­mund’s 105-year his­tory.

Klopp’s record speaks for it­self, and Dort­mund chief ex­ec­u­tive Hans-Joachim Watzke has backed his man, say­ing:“We will never sack Jur­gen Klopp. He has a lot of mer­its at the club. It will never come to a con­fronta­tional sit­u­a­tion with him.”

The Ruhr-based club were Bun­desliga run­ners-up last term, but Bay­ern romped home, win­ning the cham­pi­onship in record time, with for­mer Dort­mund play­maker Mario Gotze in their ranks.

Pep Guardi­ola fur­ther im­proved his squad and cer­tainly weak­ened his big­gest ri­vals’ team with the ac­qui­si­tion of Robert Le­wandowski last sum­mer. The Pole scored 74 Bun­desliga goals in four years at the West­falen­sta­dion and his de­par­ture came as a big loss to Klopp and the side’s sup­port­ers.

Le­wandowski’s free trans­fer to the Al­lianz Arena was the bar­gain of the sum­mer. In his open­ing 15 Bun­desliga ap­pear­ances for Bay­ern, the 26-year-old found the back of the net seven times.

As a re­sult of the sale, Klopp paid big money to cap­ture Ciro Im­mo­bile. The Ital­ian was po­tent in front of goal for Torino in Serie A last sea­son, and Dort­mund were hop­ing that he would be able to repli­cate that form in Ger­many, and con­tinue where Le­wandowski left off. Im­mo­bile has strug­gled so far – scor­ing just three times in 12 ap­pear­ances.

Die Borussen had a whole sea­son to come up with the ideal re­place­ment for Le­wandowski. They were aware of his wishes to join their big ri­vals for some time and it was clear that he had no in­ten­tions of re­new­ing his con­tract, which ran out in the sum­mer.

It is clear now that Im­mo­bile cer­tainly will not score the goals Dort­mund need to mount a chal­lenge for the Bun­desliga ti­tle in fu­ture sea­sons.

Adrian Ramos also moved to the West­falen­sta­dion in the sum­mer for an undis­closed fee. The Colom­bian in­ter­na­tional has an even worse record than Im­mo­bile thus far - scor­ing only twice in 13.

His move from Hertha Berlin was seen to be a safe one. Last sea­son, he was the joint-fourth top scorer in the Ger­man top flight, scor­ing 16 goals. That was Ramos’ best sea­son in front of goal and so, with ex­pe­ri­ence in the Bun­desliga, Klopp saw Ramos as a safe bet to be a suc­cess. But so far, that move has proved to be another fail­ure.

For­mer fans’ favourite Shinji Ka­gawa re­turned from Manch­ester United in Au­gust, but the form he showed in his first spell in the Ruhr has failed to ma­te­ri­alise.

Rel­e­ga­tion would have been un­think­able at the start of the sea­son, but it is now a real pos­si­bil­ity and it would have a mas­sive ef­fect on the club. Klopp would, almost cer­tainly, be

of­fered a job at another lead­ing club, while the majority of the squad would also leave.

The Cham­pi­ons League, how­ever, has gone well for Dort­mund so far.

They beat Arse­nal, An­der­lecht and Galatasaray to top Group D and have been drawn to take on Ju­ven­tus in the first knock­out phase, which will take place next month.

The sign­ing of Red Bull Salzburg’s Kevin Kampl for £9.4m will boost Dort­mund’s mid­field and Klopp will be hop­ing he can lead the club to safety.

With 17 games to go in the Bun­desliga sea­son, Die Borussen have plenty of time to turn their sea­son around. But Dort­mund’s first game when they re­turn from the win­ter break, a trip to Bayer Lev­erkusen at the end of Jan­uary, is one they must not lose. It will not be easy with Lev­erkusen cur­rently sit­ting in third po­si­tion.

But this fur­ther shows how close the league is in Ger­many. Lev­erkusen are only 13 points bet­ter off than Dort­mund and so if Klopp’s men can put a string of re­sults to­gether, they will go rac­ing up the ta­ble.

Klopp con­soles his play­ers after another de­feat

Mats Hum­mels – the club cap­tain has re­mained loyal to Dort­mund de­spite con­stant in­ter­est from Manch­ester United

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