Patient struggles to make a quick recovery: emergency measures must save BVB immediately

Patient struggles for lightning recovery
Emergency measures must save BVB immediately

After a very disappointing season in the Bundesliga so far, Borussia Dortmund is under a lot of pressure right from the restart against promoted team Darmstadt 98. Three returnees are supposed to help with the catch-up mission. There isn’t much time to get used to it.

Sebastian Kehl looked more relaxed than he had in a long time. The Dortmund sporting director’s pride in the late transfer coups with attacker Jadon Sancho and full-back Ian Maatsen as well as the commitment of two prominent assistant coaches was unmistakable. The emergency measures implemented during the winter break have given the 43-year-old hope for better times. “We have done our homework,” said Kehl before the restart of the Bundesliga on Saturday (6.30 p.m. on Sky and in the live ticker on at bottom team SV Darmstadt.

After a disappointing season so far with four Bundesliga games without a win and a fall to fifth place, the former BVB professional was under particular pressure to act during the winter break. The return of Nuri Şahin and Sven Bender as assistants to head coach Edin Terzić generated a positive response. Sancho from Manchester and Maatsen from London arrived late, but at least before the start of the year. Not least because of this, Kehl struck a bold tone in a talk on “Ruhr Nachrichten” and Radio 91.2: “It would be negligent to write off BVB. The quality of the team is higher than what we have delivered so far. January can be our month become.” But whether it will really be possible to intervene in the title race again seems more than questionable. Borussia are already 15 points behind league leaders Bayer Leverkusen.

“The best thing is when points are at stake straight away”

With already six points behind fourth place, the qualifying position for the Champions League, a successful start to the new year is mandatory. Victories over Darmstadt, Cologne and Bochum should be the start of a successful comeback, as was the case last year when BVB started the second half of the season in sixth place and almost became champions in the end. National player Julian Brandt pointed out the worrying situation in “Kicker”: “We are now short of time. The best thing is when it comes to points straight away, everyone knows that it has to be implemented straight away and we don’t have six weeks to do it at some point a cross or a goal or a pass is successful.”

The short training camp in Marbella only proved to be of limited encouragement. At least the work of offensive coach Şahin and defensive coach Bender was well received by the team. “I think very highly of both of them. They will definitely help us,” said captain Emre Can. But in the poor performances in the friendly matches against AZ Alkmaar (2:2) and Standard Liège (3:3), little progress was evident. The upcoming 18 games are at least about securing the premier class.

Terzić held his team accountable for this. “We expect every player to improve their performance. We want to have good competition in every position,” demanded the 41-year-old and emphasized: “We feel anticipation.” BVB will be missing Ramy Bensebaini, Sebastien Haller (both African Cup), Julian Ryerson, Karim Adeyemi, Felix Nmecha and Julien Duranville (all injured).

“You can see the fire in his eyes”

Everyone involved expects quick help, especially from Sancho, even though the 23-year-old has not played a competitive game since August following his falling out with United coach Erik ten Hag. Kehl is confident that the loan deal, which runs until the end of the season and costs almost four million euros, will still pay off. “You can see the fire in his eyes, the enthusiasm. He has the chance to get back to the level where he belongs. He is one of the best footballers we have had here and an absolute asset to the team.”

Terzić approaches the integration of the two newcomers with a similarly positive feeling. “We hope that they will immediately be an important factor for us,” said the 41-year-old. The coach left it open whether Sancho and Maatsen would already be part of the squad in Darmstadt. Full-back Maatsen seems to have a better chance of making his first appearance: “He’s a bit further ahead than Jadon because he had appearances at Chelsea shortly before Christmas.” Terzić wants to carefully build up his great hope, Sancho. After all, you “can’t afford to rush him through too early” and then he “misses training sessions and games due to a stupid injury.”

The fact that there is no purchase option for both loan players and that they will probably leave BVB at the end of the season cannot dampen Terzić’s anticipation: “In a coach’s life, six months of planning are already long-term. It’s about filling the present with life .” The Dortmund coach hopes that both professionals will contribute to a quick turnaround. “We can hardly wait to be able to work on improving our situation in the Bundesliga again. We have proven in the past that we can do it,” said Terzić: “Now unfortunately we have to prove it again. We should have gladly spared.”

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