Is it the End of the Road for Dortmund?

As Bayern Munich lifted their fifth European Cup with many believing it signals the beginning of a new dawn for Munich and also German football, what is left for their opponents Borussia Dortmund.

This is a team who in the previous two seasons have beaten Bayern to the Bundesliga title with a high tempo, pressing attacking style of football with a fearless, youthful, homegrown side, but now having failed to win the Champions League, a competition they certainly weren’t favoured to win back in September, could signal a premature end to a potentially historic side.

In recent seasons after winning their two Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012 Dortmund have sold key players to more prestigious clubs across the continent with Nuri Sahin leaving the Westfalenstadion after their first success to join Real Madrid and Shinji Kagawa leaving last summer to join Manchester United.

Even with this almost selling club mentality the club was able to keep building and striving towards better things with coach Jurgen Klopp’s showing both tactical knowledge on the pitch and nous in the transfer market, most notably bringing Marco Reus back last summer to the club he was allowed to leave back in 2006 deemed physically inept .

This has been the philosophy the club has become build upon, giving young, hungry players a chance to thrive, those perceived too much of a gamble due to either their age or lack of experience at the highest level by other clubs.

However this has not been an obstacle as they have sweep up in terms of domestic trophies beating the almighty Bayern Munich, the club expected to win the Bundesliga every season if not it being seen as failure, and even now beginning to assert authority on the rest who lay ahead on the continent.

Klopp, the great mastermind behind this side, may end up being a victim of his own success, with many players linked with clubs with a higher prestige across Europe, with domestic rivals Bayern their biggest threat having already tied up a deal with Dortmund’s golden boy Mario Gotze.

Since taking charge in the summer of 2008 Klopp has build a side without any household names and he has worked with what he has promoting players through the club’s youth system including Nuri Sahin, Mario Gotze and Kevin Grosskreutz.

His transfer policy has been sign players young, instil them with believe and confidence and build a great team unification, that can be visually seen both on the field and on the touchline with the manager playing a very active role, this is the case with players such as, Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic, Sven Bender, IIkay Gundogan, Marco Reus and Robert Lewandowski.

This has worked wonders and has transformed a sleeping giant, who since winning the Champions League in 1997 remained almost dormant in Europe’s premier club competition. In fact they had only won two more honours before Klopp’s arrival being the Intercontinental Cup in 1997 and the Bundesliga in 2001/02 but had also failed in two domestic competitions and two European competitions the 1997 UEFA Super Cup plus the 2002 UEFA Cup losing to Feyenoord in the final.

Klopp’s impact was almost instant winning the DFB Supercup in 2008 against Bayern Munich and has gone on to have further domestic success with Dortmund winning those two league titles back-to-back in 2011 and 2012 as well as winning the 2012 German Cup against Bayern Munich in the final.

This season though has been seen as Dortmund’s breakthrough with them showing their potential to become a European superpower remaining unbeaten against Real Madrid in four ties (beating them twice, drawing once and losing once albeit with a three goal advantage) as well as beating Dutch giants Ajax, an ambitious Manchester City team and most impressively having the competition’s longest unbeaten run. This breakthrough though has been unexpected by many having recorded just four points in their 2011/12 group stage of the competition.

It has given new life to the Bundesliga with many more foreign fans now recognising the quality and competitive nature of the league, with such exciting young, homegrown players being produced with Dortmund opposed to Bayern carrying the flag due to their vibrant and youthful side.

However Dortmund could now potentially go back into shadows with many of their stars having shown their quality to the rest of Europe and many of them seeing their chance at moving to the illustrious clubs around Europe.

Domestically they have struggled to juggle their European commitments finishing runners-up to Bayern by a colossal distance of 25 points, who will also announce the appointment of a one Josep Guardiola in the summer with him seeing Bayern fit for him to end his sabbatical and reassert his dominance on European football once more.

This could be a disastrous summer for Klopp if his players decide like Mario Gotze to end their time with Dortmund and there is growing speculation leading scorer Robert Lewandowski is set to follow Gotze to Bayern.

Klopp will keep what he can together and has vowed to rebuild and has had reassurances by some players, crucially Mats Hummels, which shows they are with him and are in it for the long haul.

This is a team who with this manager can become a force in European football, they are financially stable and able to compete financially in the transfer market, although decide to pursue a different but effective transfer policy and have recent success, most notably, although perhaps disappointingly, finishing runners-up in the Champions League with a young side: they will now have the experience and confidence to believe they can compete with the best.

What happens at Dortmund between now and the beginning of the new season will be crucial, could they go into transition? Perhaps they could fall victim to their own success but what is for certain this summer could be the making of Jurgen Klopp as a truly world class manager, whether that be convincing his players to stay and make Dortmund one of the elite or whether he has the quality to rebuild Dortmund even stronger, something he has done in the past when key players have left replacing them almost effortlessly adding class, not losing it.

Not only will it be a test of his man management skills convincing his key players to stay but it will also be a test of the philosophy he has ingrained in the club of not breaking the bank to sign player, developing players opposed to buy them at the height of their abilities, running the club sustainably, something very few managers think about nowadays.

Why would these players want to leave Dortmund? They have a coach committed to the club, they have grown year on year with many of the side still yet to reach their peak and have the backing to become one the elite due to their devoted fan base.

They may not share the same history with those they have competed with this season on the continent, including their great nemesis Bayern, but surely with their quality, if there players remain patient and loyal, in time they will write their own.


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