Thomas Tuchel: An overrated ‘genius’?
Borussia Dortmund, a club with a lot of history and popular for its exceptional fanbase is always seen as the only competitor for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga race. But things changed rapidly when under Jurgen Klopp they won their first domestic double in 2011/12 season and it was not the end as they managed to defend their Bundesliga title next season and that to with quite some merit.
Klopp has been a sensation for them, the man they believe in, the man who brought glory to the club. But things were not looking good for Dortmund in Klopp’s farewell year as the club suffered strings of defeats and once found themselves in 18th position in the league table! But after some victories they found themselves 7th in the league and somehow managed to qualify for the Europa league. Klopp’s farewell year was a roller coaster ride for Dortmund and time finally came when they had to bid Klopp a final goodbye.
Thomas Tuchel was selected as Klopp’s successor, a Mainz manager replacing another former Mainz manager.The manager was highly rated for his tactical brilliance and his experience in Bundesliga. But soon things were exactly opposite as Dortmund were shown the exit doors from Europa league by Klopp’s Liverpool in an epic encounter and they also lost the DFB Pokal final to Bayern.
This season, Tuchel has shown a lot of positivity as he decided to spend on young promising talents like Ousmane Dembele, Emre Mor, Mikel Merino, Raphael Guerreiro and also added Marc Bartra from Barcelona to strengthen his defence.Things were great as these players showed a lot of promise, the likes of Dembele and Guerreiro were so impressive that they earned a regular place in Dortmund’s starting XI. The transfers made by Tuchel was smart but he failed to build a deeper relation with the club. He kept on focusing only in football and that passion was missing, he also had a rift with the club chief scout Sven Mislintat.
Tuchel loves football and also loves to be in control and does not like to be answerable to his each and every action, so he has limited his appearances in front of the media and hence he has lost connection with majority of the football fans gradully.
He likes nurturing young talent like Emre Mor, Christian Pulisic, etc. and sometimes even he finds a way to field a place for them in the starting XI on any given day against any given opponent. Dortmund also doesnt have a set leader for the side, the armband revolved around several players starting from Reus to Sokratis. His frequent changes in formation also left players in difficult situations to regularly adapt to their new role.So it remains a open flank for criticism.
Tuchel has tried all kinds of formations and systems this season. he has tried 3 at the back , or sometimes gone with 2 strikers and sometimes with only one. Most of the time he has played 4-1-4-1 and has handed German youngster Julian Weigl with all the responsibilities of build up play. Dortmund has no shortage of talent but experienced players like Gonzalo Castro, Sokratis, Marco Reus, etc. forms the backbone of the team. Weigl may miss Gundogan in front of him as he was sold to Manchester City but young recruitments that arrived were enough to provide the side a solidity.
But injury issues has always pulled Dortmund back. With senior players like Reus and Gotze who are almost out for the whole season and injuries to key players like Andre Schurrle and Erik Durm has hurted them badly.
Injuries to several key players throughout the season is a big set back but the biggest set back was when after an impressive first season at Dortmund Tuchel lost 3 of his key players in Hummels, Gundogan And Mkhitaryan. These 3 were the pillars of the club and were very strong reasons for the club’s success. So loosing them was a great setback and then Tuchel did not find the perfect replacement for Hummels and hence the solidity they had with the experienced duo of Hummels and Subotic was broken and the Greco-Spanish duo of Sokratis and Bartra never went close to what Hummels and Subotic did for Dortmund.
Dortmund always wished for success in Europe and under Klopp, they reached the Champions league final only to be beaten by Bayern. But things in Europe has not been good since then. A Quarterfinal exit from Europa league and now this year again another Quarterfinal exit to Monaco in the Champions league has done their records in Europe no good at all.
Yes there were issues as terrorists attacked their team bus on its way to the stadium and the 1st leg of the Champions league quarterfinal match had to postponed. Dortmund did not have the mindset to play football after such incidents. Tuchel was late in reading the game and left it late till the 2nd half. In the 2nd half he brought Sahin and Pulisic, who changed the game on its head. But Dortmund’s gallant efforts were not enough to stop Monaco, as they lost 2-3 at home.
The away leg in France was again well fought but had to end in a defeat for Dortmund as they saw Quarterfinal exits in European competition for successive years. Tuchel blamed UEFA for organising a match within 24 hours of a terrorist attack. But things are certainly not looking nice for him as well. Dortmund are currently at 3rd in Bundesliga also, only one point ahead of a young Hoffenheim side inspired by Julian Naglesmann, a potential threat to his managerial seat.
Tuchel does not share a good relationship with the fans neither does he have a good relationship with the Board members, so it is highly unlikely that he will remain at Dortmund once his contract ends in 2018 unless the fortunes reverse in some dramatic manner.
But on the contrary this team is very inexperienced and will only get better with time. Players like Guerreiro, Dembele,Weigl have shown a lot of promise and will surely get better with time. So judging Tuchel so early with this inexperienced side will not be fair.
Not buying sufficient recruitments, being brought down by injuries, over-dependence on young players in pressure situations and maintaining a cold relationship with the fans and media- all these facts does not go in his favour in this debate and may raise some serious questions on Tuchel, but probably the time has yet not arrived to judge the former Mainz manager. Is Thomas Tuchel overrated? Is he the right man for Dortmund? Can he bring back the glory? Only time has an answer for all these questions but for the time being the tag of ‘An overrated genius’ is seemingly looming large.