Marc-André Kruska; hindered by the title of ‘wonderkid’
Borussia Dortmund have always had a policy of bringing young players through into the first team and giving them opportunities to shine. For academy boy Marc-André Kruska, he would get his opportunity to show what he can do at the age of 17. Put up in front of the spotlight at such a young age, the young midfielder took his opportunity and was keen to show the world what he was capable of achieving.
It was Dutch boss Bert van Marwijk who gave Kruska that opportunity, during a time when the club was impacted by financial problems off the pitch. Dortmund were in crisis, selling their stars at any opportunity in an attempt to balance the books. With huge debts behind them, the club sold Westfalenstadion to try and raise cash. Bayern Munich even loaned them money to help with their payroll. To make matters worse, the club missed out on Champions League football for a number of years, resulting in the club missing out on its financial rewards.
Kruska came in during a time when the club were in dire straights. The fact that he had could come into the side and play without pressure, gave him the encouragement to stand out to the fans and the Bundesliga. Sitting in front of the defence, Kruska’s job was to protect the defensive line as the anchor of the midfield. His young engine was a huge boost as athletically he could get around the park. He could also stay cool in situations on the ball and play passes in the transitional stages from defence into attack.
At the end of the his first season for BVB, Kruska scored his first goal for the club, becoming the youngest ever goalscorer in the Bundesliga at that time. Making 18 appearances at the age of 17, his manager and club were focused on giving him the playing time required in order for him to flourish. Everyone could see his potential and Dortmund were giving him the platform to achieve it.
3 more seasons go past and by this time Dortmund are dropping further and further down the table, finishing way outside of any European competitions and nowhere near the championship. The club parted with Marwijk and during that time Jürgen Röber and Thomas Doll both came in and both lost their jobs. Throughout this time though, Kruska cemented his place in the team and you could see him nurturing into something. Kruska came through at the same time as Nuri Şahin who was starting to shine more than Kruska. Şahin was the flair midfielder, Kruska was the water carrier. All sides need a water carrier to do the dirty work, however, Kruska seemed to be developing at a much slower rate than Şahin, which made him easily forgettable.
The summer of 2008 saw the appointment of charismatic, eccentric Jürgen Klopp. Known as Harry Potter, Klopp had a vision of how he wanted his Dortmund side to play. He knew the club had financial problems in the past so the opportunity to purchase superstars was out of the question. Klopp needed to work with what he had at his disposal. He came up with a system that required constant energy, commitment, focus and desire. If you were not on board, then the door was open for you to go.
With Kruska’s development not up to scratch, Klopp decided Kruska wasn’t going to fit into his plans. He had another holding midfielder on his horizons, his name Sven Bender. Bender became Klopps anchor and that made way for Kruska to leave the club that gave him his platform.
Kruska moved on from Dortmund to Belgian side Club Brugge, where he made 15 appearances fro the blue and blacks. At the end of that campaign though, Kruska returned to Germany and signed a deal with Energie Cottbus in the 2.Bundesliga. In 2014 Kruska was on the move again, this time to FSV Frankfurt but his time there only last 2 years and has since moved to SC Paderborn 07. At Paderborn, Kruska has seen a dramatic fall from grace. The club have been in free fall and have dropped from the Bundesliga, to the 3.Liga following consecutive relegations. The club almost found relegation to the Regionalliga leagues. Only a disastrous plummet by 1860 Munich saw them relegated over Paderborn. Kruska could have dropped 4 divisions in a number of years.
Once taking the Bundesliga by storm, to a dramatic decline to the brink of the Regionalliga. Marc-Andre Kruska found it difficult to handle the potential and utilise it. What could have been for Kruska, well he could have been part of Klopp’s revolution at Dortmund and who knows where that could have taken him. All we know is that he had the world at his feet, but let it slip away. A prime example that you should never let your guard down and think you’ve made it, you can always improve and make better of yourself. To be the best you have to work for it and once your there you have to maintain it. Something that Kruska didn’t understand and found difficult.
Marc-Andre Kruska, the man will bags of potential but unable to live up to the title ‘wonderkid’.