The Bundesliga title race isn’t exactly setting pulses racing, but there are still plenty of talking points. Pep Guardiola is leaving for pastures new at the end of the season, and the Munich giants have acted swiftly in securing Carlo Ancelotti as his replacement. There’s Borussia Dortmund under the stewardship of Thomas Tuchel, whose team has scored more goals than any other side in the Bundesliga.
Then there is the most remarkable story of them all, the tale of Borussia Mönchengladbach and their phoenix like revival inspired by a reluctant hero, Andre Schubert.
“I don’t need to be a coach in the Bundesliga or Bundesliga 2 to be happy with my life,” were his words when he was initially appointed as head coach of Borussia Mönchengladbach on a caretaker basis. Mönchengladbach had lost their opening five Bundesliga matches of the season leading, to the resignation of Lucien Favre. Favre had guided the Foals to a Champions League position the previous season and was expected to take the clubs to further heights. However things this season didn’t quite go to plan for the Swiss.
MORE BUNDESLIGA: Ancelotti to replace Guardiola at the end of the season.
Möenchengladbach were anchored to the bottom of the Bundesliga table when Favre left in September. Enter Schubert, the club’s under-23 coach, whose previous managerial stints at FC St. Pauli and Paderborn provided little to suggest that he was the man to turn things around. Then came eight wins in 10 matches, including a 3-1 victory over league leaders Bayern Munich and saw Gladbach race up the table into third. Their run came to a spectacular end when The Foals were thumped 5-0 by Bayer Leverkusen last weekend, but normal service resumed when they beat Darmstadt on Sunday. Glabbach currently sit fourth in the Bundesliga.
This run wasn’t built on a mean defense but on a free scoring attack. Mönchengladbach scored two goals or more in all but two matches in that run, doing so by playing fast, enterprising, dynamic soccer.
Schubert’s genius was not to overhaul the team tactically but to make several minor adjustments to get the team functioning again. Speaking to Bundesliga.com, Schubert revealed:
“We knew we needed to play more aggressively – that was the first point. The second thing was our transitional play after winning the ball back. The players’ quality means they can recognize if there’s a good chance of being able to score, and we organized training so that they’d have to play in a really enclosed space, so you need to be very good on the ball. The third thing we did was work with them psychologically, using video analysis.”
Under Schubert, Gladbach are more direct, play with more tempo and pressing higher up the pitch. The style of play leaves them exposed at the back, with the team conceding 18 league goals in the 12 games. But the attitude is if the opponents get one Möenchengladbach will score two. It’s a style which has found favor with the players ,with the likes of Raffael, the hard-working Lars Stindl, Fabian Johnson and Granit Xhaka responding to his methods.
MORE BUNDESLIGA: Bayern move eight points clear of Dortmund.
Seven league games after Schubert was appointed caretaker, Gladbach took the plunge and gave the former defender a permanent deal. Sporting director Max Eberl noted, “we know that our team is in good hands. We therefore decided to give him a new contract. Not bad for a man who was initially brought in just to steady the ship.
Going into the winter break, Bayern Munich may be top of the tree, but the resurrection of Borussia Mönchengladbach is the real story.
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