Rooted to the bottom of the Bundesliga table after thirteen matches, Borussia Dortmund find themselves in unfamiliar territory. It’s a dramatic fall from grace for the 2011 and 2012 champions who under Jurgen Klopp have once again become a dominant force in European football. But after a disastrous start, questions are now being asked about Klopp and whether the Dortmund board has to do the unthinkable and call to an end his spell in charge. Klopp has refused to walk away from Dortmund, citing that he can turn things around and propel Die Schwarzgelben back up the table. With only nine points separating Dortmund and fifth place Borussia Monchengladbach, mathematically it is possible however given Dortmund’s recent league form; the challenge looks far more daunting.
Klopp’s men slipped to yet another defeat this past weekend, this time at Eintracht Frankfurt. Despite having a majority of the possession and 17 attempts on goal, Dortmund crashed to a 2-0 defeat condemning them to their eighth defeat of the season. Scoring goals has been a major problem with Klopp blamed for failing to adequately replace Polish striker Robert Lewandowski who departed in the summer for Bayern Munich. His three replacements – Italian Ciro Immobile, Adrian Ramos and Pierre Aubameyang have scored only eight goals between them in the first thirteen matches with the entire midfield only chipping in a further four during the same time frame. Whilst putting the ball in the net at one end has been a problem, picking it out of their own net appears to be a bigger one. Dortmund have shipped twenty one goals so far and have yet to record a clean sheet this season. Klopp has stuck by goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller despite some dubious displays, much like he has stuck by several other underperforming players in recent weeks. Dortmund’s once solid defence looks unmistakably leaky at present with youngster Matthias Ginter in particular looking off the pace. The talented youngster who was part of Germany’s World Cup winning squad this past summer, is one of the brightest prospects in German football however in recent games has looked nervous and error prone. An injury to Mats Hummel has forced new signing Ginter into action but the youngster appears to be struggling under the pressure of life in Signal Iduna Park. Klopp to be fair still remains composed on the sidelines, pondering what to do next to rectify this drop in form but some are now wondering if he will get the chance.
Before Klopp was hired, Dortmund were struggling in the Bundesliga with the fans becoming disenchanted after five dreadful campaigns. After Thomas Doll was sacked, Mainz coach Jurgen Klopp was selected in a move that would transform the club back into one of Europe’s elite. Along with a plethora of youngsters coming through the youth system, Klopp started to rebuild the squad, buying good young players and turning them into world class footballers. Eventually his hard work started to pay off with titles and trophies coming back into the Dortmund trophy room. He made his position at the club irreplaceable for as long as he wanted to stay at Dortmund, the club would be happy to let him remain there. However after six successful years, rumours started to surface about potential moves to Barcelona, Manchester United and Liverpool, all of which came to nothing in the end after Klopp reiterated his desire to stay. But recently Klopp has added weight to that argument that perhaps in the not so distant future he would move to another club, with the Premiership his preferred destination due primarily to his ability to speak English. Since then unconfirmed reports of an agreement struck between Arsenal and Klopp for the German to take over from Arsene Wenger have fuelled the fire that Klopp’s time in Germany may be up. If it is true, Klopp will quit his role at Borussia in the summer and join Arsenal as Arsene Wenger moves upstairs to take on a board position. This distraction has not helped Dortmund’s season to date with several newspapers claiming the mood in the Dortmund camp has dramatically shifted. Once seen as irreplaceable, Klopp’s position is gradually migrating towards untenable.
If the poor league form continues into January, Dortmund’s board may just decide to pull the rip cord on Klopp’s time in charge sooner than the summer in order to protect their future as a Bundesliga team. Klopp will know that he needs to put any talk of a move away from Dortmund onto the backburner so that he can refocus his team towards the task in hand. Over the next few weeks before the winter mid season break, Borussia have the chance to claw back some points with winnable games over Hoffenheim, Werder Bremen and Hertha. Even a tricky match against this season surprise outfit Wolfsburg offers Dortmund the chance of leaving that match with some points. If Klopp can rally his troops to four victories in a row before Christmas then perhaps he will be safe in his role. If he can’t, he may have to face up to life out of football for a while, that is until the summer when he will surely join up with his new team Arsenal.