That Dortmund and coach Thomas Tuchel have parted company will not have come as a surprise to any Bundesliga aficionado.
For many months now, Tuchel’s uneasy relationship with the powers-that-be at the Westfalenstadion (notably CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke and general manager Michael Zorc) has been stirring no end of bad feeling and with a group of players fighting their own battles against TT, the point of no return was reached.
Tuchel enjoyed a considerable amount of success in his two years at the Schwarz-Gelben helm, twice qualifying them for the Champions League, beating Frankfurt 2-1 in this season’s German Cup final and earning much praise for his side’s stylish possession football and attacking glitz.
But he also had his faults and ultimately would pay the ultimate price for his brusque manner and lack of diplomacy. If something was bothering him – such as transfer dealings or the swift rescheduling of the Champions League tie with Monaco following a bomb attack on the team bus – he would go public with it. And too bad if the club hierarchy took exception. That’s not the way to win friends.
Taxi for Tuchel. Pause for Dortmund ace Marco Reus, who early in the cup final, partially tore a cruciate ligament in his right knee and now looks set for another long absence.
The 28-year-old Germany flyer for whom triumph in the “Pokal” was the first trophy of his career, is to see a specialist in Munich for a more detailed examination and depending on the results, could be sidelined for between four and eight months.
When fit, Reus is one of the most potent forwards in Europe, a thrilling composite of tempo, dribbling skills, creativity and goals. If only he wasn’t injured so often, so prone to serious medical issues.
In the last three years alone, he has been to orthopaedic hell and back, damaging ankle ligaments on three separate occasions and also suffering major groin and pelvic problems. With his luck all bad, both the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 passed him by and this term he only appeared in half of Dortmund’s Bundesliga fixtures.
“It’s a very bitter pill for Marco,” exclaimed Dortmund skipper Marcel Schmelzer. “I don’t know why he’s continually being plagued by this type of thing.”
Just as well Reus is made of stern stuff mentally. Despite his recurring physical setbacks, he is not one to be discouraged by setbacks and certainly wasn’t feeling sorry for himself in the aftermath of the Berlin showpiece, partying as hard as anyone at Berlin’s Olympiastadion and during his team’s conquering hero parade in Dortmund the following day.
What We Learned This Week
1. Wolfsburg save their skins
As a result of their 2-0 aggregate victory over Eintracht Braunschweig in the relegation/promotion play-offs, Wolfsburg retained their top-flight status. But plain sailing it was not. The Braunschweig Lions pushed their Lower Saxon neighbours all the way and, in truth, can feel a little hard done by. Wolfsburg had a dubious penalty award to thank for their 1-0 home win in the first-leg and in the return, a rampant Braunschweig had several chances to turn it around, only to be caught cold by a thunderbolt from opposition winger Vieirinha. “What we’ve achieved is the absolute minimum,” admitted Wolfsburg boss Andries Jonker. “The players are relieved but this is no success.”
2. Oh yes, Onyekuru
Keen for more penetration on the flanks, Schalke are rumoured to have contacted Belgian side Eupen about young Nigerian wide-man Henry Onyekuru. The 19-year-old has been in blistering goalscoring form in the Belgian league this term and is thought to be on the radar of a number of Premier League outfits. Eupen are demanding a fee in the 8-12 million euro bracket.