Lucien Favre's tenure at the helm of Dortmund is up following a disastrous 5:1 defeat to Stuttgart on Saturday. We analyze four potential replacements to take over at BVB.
Disappointing defeats in the league and early exits in the Champions League mean in Favre’s 2 seasons at the helm of Die Schwarzgelben, Dortmund have been unable to lift a trophy.
We look at some possible acquisitions for Dortmund, who are capable of providing fans of BVB with the exciting attacking football of past years, whilst also being able to push the side back into contention for a title both domestically and in Europe.
Jesse Marsch: Under Contract until 06/30/2022 at Red Bull Salzburg
RB Salzburg’s talent is not only found on the pitch, with the Austrian club consistently having one of the world’s best upcoming managers on the sideline. This year is no different, with American coach Jesse Marsch commanding an exciting young side that plays attacking football without restrictions. Regardless if they are up against European champions Liverpool, or St.Pölten in domestic competition, Jesse Marsch' side plays with the same fervor, looking to command the game in possession and force the opponent on the back foot.
Defensively Marsch hasn’t always proved the most successful with his Salzburg side, conceding 24 goals across 9 matches in the last two Champions League group stages. If Marsch is able to ensure a more tight defensive unit, then he is the perfect manager to take over at Dortmund. If he carries this issue with him from Salzburg, Marsch could run into many of the same problems that Favre encountered in his reign.
Marsch also has Bundesliga experience, working for a season as the assistant to Julian Nagelsmann in the German manager's first season at Leipzig. Nagelsmann is definitely someone Dortmund would love to have in the home dugout, however it seems impossible to pry him away from the rising project in Leipzig. Thus, a manager like Marsch will bring many of the philosophies learned under Nagelsmann to BVB, as well as his own principles and values that he has cemented in his time in Austria.
Although not the sprite young manager that is Nagelsmann, Jesse Marsch himself is only 46, meaning his ability to learn and grow as a head coach is still immense. Often criticism of Favre was aimed at his inability to find a plan B in big games, with Dortmund continuing to intricately pass on top of the opposition box without finding a way through. Through the RB school that has adapted and changed immensely over the last seasons, Marsch will be much less grounded in one tactical setup, and offer flexibility in multiple attacking options that has been lost at Dortmund in the Swiss manager’s reign.
With Haaland we have already seen the impressive transition from RB Salzburg to BVB on the pitch, now it could be up to Jesse Marsch to do so in the dugout. Since leaving Red Bull New York in 2018, Marsch has begun to make a name for himself, working in the shadows in Leipzig for a year, and then taking over Salzburg maintaining the same levels of excellence that Marco Rose had instilled in his tenure. Jesse Marsch will be looking for the next challenge like many of his players, and a move to Dortmund could provide just the right platform to do so.
Philippe Clement: Under Contract until 06/30/2022 at Club Brügge
One of the brightest managers flying under the radar right now, Phillipe Clement is now in his fourth season in the Belgian top flight, with two consecutive titles under his belt. Having convincingly won the league with K.R.C Genk in 2019, Clement once more swept the domestic competition last season after being brought in by Club Brügge, ending the shortened season with a 15 point gap to K.A.A Gent in second.
Clement’s Brugge play a high paced attacking game, with a reliance on speedy forwards and capitalizing on transition moments. Particularly domestically, Clement found a great balance between a possession based style to wear down opponents, and quick incisive moves to unlock disorganized defenses when the ball was won high up the pitch. This style bodes well in a Dortmund side where the balance between midfield technicians and goal minded forwards is perfectly set up for a manager like Clement.
Although Clement has clear principles and methods to his football, the former Belgian international is very flexible from a tactical standpoint. Throughout the 29 game season, Club Brügge lined up in 8 different formations. The astounding amount of flexibility is a testament to Clement who was willing to let go of a set up that worked well previously and change around his plans to nullify the threat of a different opposition.
Clement is a relatively inexperienced manager, particularly on the biggest stages. This could be his downfall, with an opening at Dortmund probably one or two years too early for him. However, season on season Clement continues to improve, and Hans-Joachim Watzke will have a good look at his side, with Brügge and BVB both assigned to Group F in this season's Champions League.
Mauricio Pochettino: Currently without a club
Likely Dortmund’s dream choice, but at the same time the hardest to acquire, Mauricio Pochettino’s 6 seasons at Tottenham Hotspurs have put him in the world-class category when it comes to current managerial talent.
Although the glaring figure of 0 trophies does not bode well for a BVB side in need of silverware, Pochettino’s man management and ability to get the best out of young players makes Dortmund the perfect platform for the Argentine to work his magic. The likes of Heung-min Son, Dele Alli, and Harry Kane have all exponentially developed under the Argentine’s tenure, flowering into world-class talents over the past 6 years. With 11 players under the age of 23, including teenage mega talents like Gio Reyna and Jude Bellingham, Pochettino has an even better group of talent available to him then when appointed manager at Spurs. Taking Spurs from mid table mediocrity to Champions League finalists, just imagine what Pochettino can do with the young talent available at Dortmund.
Tactically Pochettino will tick many of the boxes Hans-Joachim Watzke will have. Pochettino has a footballing philosophy built around possession with a purpose, utilizing quick wingers and box to box midfielders to drive the ball forward. Particularly players like Jude Bellingham and Axel Witsel would flourish under Poch, taking up a similar role to Moussa Dembele by providing the linchpin between build up play and attacks on goal.
The big issue for Dortmund is not if they want Pochettino, but if they can get him. Heavily linked with Manchester United, Barcelona, and PSG, Dortmund may feel like a step down for the Argentine. Furthermore, Pochettino will know that BVB will require a long term project, with much of the talent still in their early stages of their careers, needing time to develop into consistent performers at the highest level. Ultimately the decision will be up to Pochettino if Dortmund come calling, however for fans of BVB, Pochettino’s appointment must be number 1 on their list.
Florian Kohfeldt: Under Contract until 06/30/2023 at Werder Bremen
The appointment of Florian Kohfeldt at Dortmund would likely divide opinion at the Signal Iduna Park. However, at 38 years of age, Kohfeldt is still in the infancy of his managerial career, with his talent on the sidelines already proving his capacity to become a long term fixture in Germany’s top flight technical areas.
Bremen’s dire performances last season, that saw them narrowly stave off relegation after beating Heidenheim in a two legged playoff, is undoubtedly the elephant in the room (or on the laptop screen). However, what can not go amiss is his performances a year prior, which saw a relatively average Bremen side narrowly miss out on Europa League qualification. This season Kohfeldt has once again looked like he has steadied the ship, with Bremen sitting comfortably in 9th place after 6 match days, even with the late departure of club captain Davy Klaasen. If Bremen continue to put in good performances this season and can put the nightmare of last season firmly in the past, then Kohfeldt's chances of a step up at the end of the campaign will look much more likely.
At Bremen’s best, Kohfeldt was able to show his tactical know-how, getting the best out of Max Kruse and Milot Rashica through quick combination play that progressed Bremen forward. An Injury crisis throughout last season narrowed the tools at Kohfeldt’s disposal, however the season before Bremen were very flexible, rolling out in a midfield diamond, a three at the back, and a traditional 433. This will be a key trait to bring to Dortmund, with Die Schwarz-Gelben's squad composed of players capable of excelling across various positions and tactical setups.
Last season didn’t go well, that much is clear, however what must be said is that ultimately Kohfeldt got his side over the line. In a situation where many other managers would have cracked under the pressure Kohfeldt remained confident in his side. Even when the football on the pitch was disastrously poor he never looked to shy away from the pressure or give up on his side. At just 38 years old, Kohfeldt has already experienced some of the hardest parts of managing in the Bundesliga and come through it alive. If that isn’t an achievement, then what is?
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