Fresh off of winning the DFB Pokal and securing a much-needed trophy for Dortmund, the German press is reporting that Thomas Tuchel may officially be done with BVB. While the definite 100% confirmation is not there yet as of this writing in the early hours of Tuesday morning GMT, the writing for the manager is on the wall. Barring a miraculous kumbaya moment for manager and management, Tuchel leaving is a matter of when not if.
However, I would suggest that this does not actually matter, and it is not because Tuchel is overrated or Dortmund is that amazing. Rather, it is simply because the underlying issues that caused this divorce will be present no matter who the manager is.
Seemingly the friction between the Board and Tuchel started in the summer after BVB failed to secure a trophy and were just edged out of the title by Bayern. The player raids had begun and Dortmund lost three key talents in Mkhitaryan, Gundogan, and Hummels. It is not uncommon for managers and their Boards to fight over player acquisitions and wages; heck Jose Mourinho has made a career of doing it and thrives on bemoaning what he does not have rather than extolling what he does have. What seems to have happened here was a battle of egos that seeped into other aspects of the relationship. By the time the attack on the team bus occurred and management signed-off on playing the Monaco match the next day, the relationship was destroyed and the fight was long carried into the press.
Now with the season over, undoubtedly history will repeat itself. The largest clubs in the world are lining up for Aubameyang and the Board has shown little in its recent history that will suggest they will consider keeping him. Other players like Pulisic have been scouted extensively and are the subject of rumours. Twelve months from now, we could be in the same situation where the clubs best players will be sold and their replacements will be a pretty good replacement, but maybe not good enough.
Here is why that’s particularly upsetting for Tuchel. The Bundesliga currently is a treacherous place for any club not named Bayern Munich. One need only look at Wolfsburg (16th) or Bayer Leverkusen (12th) to see how quickly a competitive club’s fortunes can fall in the league. Added to this is an RB Leipzig side that is cash rich and needs to win trophies. The Bundesliga in the near term could see two Bayern and Leipzig as the annual favorites with everyone else battling for the remaining European places or to stay up.
Dortmund has a pipeline of young talent, money to spend on player acquisitions, and a large fanbase. It has the makings of a club that can compete annually for a top three spot. If management wants to continually sell off its most valuable pieces, the club will need perfect coaching annually to try and win the league. Thomas Tuchel knows this is a large ask, and anyone Dortmund hires will know the same.
When Tuchel leaves, the Board will undoubtedly be able to bring on a good, young manager who will take the talent provided and do well. However, the margin of error is so thin that this bright young manager could be overseeing a club that is battling to stay out of the relegation zone next year and for years to come. The Board needs to rethink its investments and management style, or we could see repeats of the manager v. management battle annually.