The shock slump of Klopp’s boys
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