Where does the future lie for Thomas Tuchel?

Thomas Tuchel secured his first trophy as Dortmund head coach, with a 2-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the German Cup final. After Sunday’s celebrations die down, talk of his future will dominate the headlines.

“I have a contract until 2018 and I’d like to fulfill that.”

The words of Borussia Dortmund head coach Thomas Tuchel, who guided the yellow-and-blacks to their fourth German Cup, and his first major trophy as a trainer. But rightly or wrongly, the sporting success of this season has been overshadowed lately by the unambiguous schism between the coach and CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke.

How and why this discord has ruptured at the Westfalenstadion has been covered. Next week, Watzke, who can count on sporting director Michael Zorc and President Reinhard Rauball for support, will sit down with the 43-year-old to discuss the future. Sunday reports in Germany’s newspapers claim the two will part ways despite the contract and Dortmund’s title win.

It’s an important juncture in Dortmund’s recent history, both from a strategic football decision and how the club shapes its identity. Lucien Favre, now coach of Nice, has emerged as the front-runner to replace the former Mainz coach; such is Watzke’s admiration for the ex-Gladbach coach that he was the primary candidate to replace Jürgen Klopp after his departure.

Given the progress on the tactical front under Tuchel, a change to a coach with a wildly different philosophy — and similar personality traits –makes little sense. Favre’s foundations are based on strong defensive positioning, with rapid transitions to attack. Tuchel has tweaked the failures of Klopp’s final 18 months and turned Dortmund into one of the most proficient, captivating teams in positional play on the continent. Changing course having invested time and resources into the Tuchel project would be extremely haphazard.

Identity is paramount for Dortmund, regardless of their push to become a European super club. The region ticks around passion and industry. Klopp’s connection to the supporters, whilst dragging the club out of turmoil and to the heights of the sport were always going to be unrealistic shoes to fill. Neither Tuchel nor Favre would have aroused the same kind of energy as Klopp.

This is where there are reasonable arguments that Tuchel hasn’t adapted to the demands of a bigger club. Even after securing his first title, he didn’t join his players and the supporters for celebrations at the end of the game. It’s hardly the crime of the century, but either way, Dortmund fans value that affinity with the fan.

However, this is a separate issue from his management of the squad. There are more than enough reasons to dismiss the idea that the squad is against the coach. “If you have no trust and no connection in the team, you will not reach your goals, I am deeply convinced of that,” he added to the debate. Though the narrative is one of player revolt, some squad members have come to the aid of Tuchel in recent weeks.

American teenager Christian Pulisic, in an authentic and straightforward interview with The Guardian, spoke about how grateful he was to Tuchel for his advice when he broke through. Matthias Ginter recently described the coach as a genius and the best he’d worked with.”I think the most important are titles. Trainers are measured by this. He should stay,” said goalkeeper Roman Bürki after Dortmund’s cup success in Berlin.

The relationship between Tuchel and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang remains as strong as before, while the likes of Shinji Kagawa, Gonzalo Castro and Julian Weigl are close enough on his side. And there are a bunch of other players, who by and large, don’t really care whose side they are on amid the ongoing strife in the club. Those voicing discontent anonymously for their own gain when they’ve been at BVB for long enough should know better.

This brings us to Watzke, who has made an ironclad contribution to Borussia Dortmund; it was his persistence and diligence that prevented Dortmund from financial oblivion at the final hour. His strategic decisions on the business side of the club are the reason that they’ve been able to compete so strongly on a sporting level in the domestic and European competitions.

But the last season-or-so have raised quite apparent questions around his ability to manage a football club under the spotlight. He’s a loose cannon in front of the media, often using the opportunity to project his own agenda on the club. There have been fall-outs with supporter groups, who are central to the identity of the institution, an alienation process of the club’s roots, and u-turns on the place of operations like RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim in German football.

Self-aware leaders put their own feelings aside for the best interests of theclub. Leaks are the sign of a rocky foundation at the core of an organization. In rather odd circumstances, it’s the supposed leaders at the club who are facilitating such negative energy around the Westfalen. The impressions given by the CEO and club captain Marcel Schmelzer were self-important after the trophy win and sum up the issues at the heart of the discussion.

So, something has to give in the next week, once the ticker-tape and celebrations have cooled around the Borsigplatz. Tuchel will be on his own, though. He can justify his position in the dugout by the club’s performances and the overall success of his two seasons, but right now that looks like a meager case to protect his place at the club.

Think you are a better manager than Carlo Ancelotti or Thomas Tuchel? Now is your chance to prove it! Sign up for the FOX Sports FC Bundesliga Manager and show your tactical nous to stand a chance of winning great prizes, including a trip to Germany to watch the Bundesliga live!

Comments