|Marco Rose.||Photo: Borussia Mönchengladbach|
When it was announced that Marco Rose would be taking over the vacant role at Borussia Dortmund ahead of the 2021/22 season, his stock as one of Europe’s hottest managerial prospects was high. Trudging off the Allianz Arena pitch at half-time, with Borussia Mönchengladbach trailing champions Bayern Munich by four goals to nil, questions surrounding his credentials now hang over the 44-year-old's head.
It was the Bundesliga’s worst kept secret. After Lucien Favre was relieved of his duties in mid-December, the Dortmund managerial hunt may have been long, but their number one candidate was clear from the start. It was confirmed Rose would take charge at the Westfalenstadion in February, but not before seeing out the season with Mönchengladbach. Die Fohlen were in the hunt for Champions League football when the news broke. With just two matchdays remaining, they're eleven points behind Eintracht Frankfurt in fourth.
Having impressed during his time with Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg, the Leipzig born coach went down the path well-travelled and made the switch to Germany in 2019. In his first season in the division, Rose steered Mönchengladbach to an impressive fourth-placed finish, securing Champions League football for the first time since 2016/17. Emerging alongside the coach, an exciting crop of youthful talents were making names for themselves, including: Marcus Thuram, Nico Elvedi and Denis Zakaria. Add the experience of Yann Sommer, Matthias Ginter and Alassane Pléa into the mix, and for the first time in a while die Fohlen looked like a balanced side.
Mönchengladbach carried their strong form into the 2021/22 campaign and managed to negotiate a tricky Champions League group containing: Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter Milan and record-winners, Real Madrid. By the time the new year rolled around, Mönchengladbach were flying. A late-January demolition of Dortmund moved Rose’s side back up to fourth, leapfrogging his future employers in the process.
Following the announcement that Rose would officially be leaving at the end of the season, Mönchengladbach’s form fell off a cliff. Die Fohlen lost all eight of their next fixtures, limping out of the European Cup 4-0 across both legs to Manchester City and passing up on the chance of a first piece of silverware in 25-years after being knocked out of the DFB Pokal by a resurged Dortmund.
It’s undoubted that Marco Rose will leave with Mönchengladbach in a better place than when he arrived. After a similarly impressive start, Rose’s predecessor, Dieter Hecking, departed the North-Rhine Westphalia in pretty disappointing fashion. Seven defeats in the Rückrunde meant Mönchengladbach fell short of the top-four by the slender margin of three points. And with the race for Champions League football set to go down to the final day for Rose’s future club, there’s no certainty Dortmund will be playing in the competition next season.
Heading into the final two matches of this campaign, the eight-times Bundesliga winners currently occupy fourth, one point ahead of chasers Frankfurt below them. Having struggled financially from one and a half years without fans at the Westfalenstadion, missing out on Champions League football could have huge repercussions for Dortmund.
Rumours have circulated about the future of dynamic duo Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland and reports have linked the pair with moves away from Germany in the upcoming summer transfer window. Just under half of Dortmund’s goals this season have been scored by the two and even if one the players was to leave, it would be an early obstacle for Rose to overcome. Whilst the club may look to cash in – specifically with Haaland whose cutthroat release clause comes into play at the end of next season – Rose would no doubt prefer to go into his new role at the Signal Iduna Park not having to attempt to replace the irreplaceable.
Still, with or without Sancho and Haaland, Dortmund under Rose will fancy their prospects next time out. Bayern Munich may have won their nineth consecutive Meisterschale, yet the record Bundesliga winners are set to enter a league campaign with a manager that has never won a major trophy for the first time since Jurgen Klinsmann took the reins in 2008. Big things may be expected of Julian Nagelsmann as a manager in the future, but with a summer clear out on the way in Bavaria, a 10th league title on the trot isn’t a formality.
Various teams across the division are poised to take advantage, should Bayern slip-up. RB Leipzig and their new manager Jesse March will be looking to go one better than their likely second placed finish this season, whilst Wolfsburg have demonstrated their ability to mix it with the league’s big guns on multiple occasions throughout the year.
However, perhaps Bayern’s biggest threat to their crown will indeed be Dortmund and if Rose can harness the type of form that has seen the Black and Yellows reach the DFB Pokal final under interim boss Edin Terzić this season, as opposed to their performances in the league, they’ll be best placed to come out on top.