DMost of Borussia Dortmund’s relatives were in a good mood when they gradually arrived on the training ground on Thursday to start the new season with a corona test. Marco Reus will continue to fail indefinitely due to his persistent tendon injury in the adductor area, and Mats Hummels will have to cut back for the time being; the veteran turned over during his privately carried out fitness exercises.
For this, the young Youssoufa Moukoko is now part of the professional squad, even if he is only allowed to play in the Bundesliga after his 16th birthday in November. The highly gifted striker “should now be brought up to senior football,” said Michael Zorc, who was able to convince two other newcomers to move to BVB: Thomas Meunier (right-back from Paris St. Germain) and Jude Bellingham (midfielder from Birmingham City).
“We are delighted that it will start again,” said the sports director, even if the company is still in a pandemic state of emergency. “Unfortunately, the Corona issue will continue to accompany us,” said Zorc, who hopes, however, that another annoyance of the recent past will become less relevant: the debates about discrepancies between the previously announced season goal and reality.
These controversies have had such a negative impact on the everyday climate in recent years that managing director Hans-Joachim Watzke announced at the end of June that he would no longer be naming any specific goals for a game year. “After last season’s experience, it doesn’t make sense,” Zorc said. The public handling of the announcements for the summer of 2019 has resulted in “that we feel that we are being driven by naming the season goal”.
Moods in the environment and atmospheric currents are always an important factor in the course of a football year, now they hope with their new strategy not to be confronted with more or less sneering headlines after each defeat to an impending failure to meet their own demands. It will be exciting to see whether this plan works, because dealing with seasonal goals has always been a difficult topic in the debates surrounding BVB. Also internally.
The 2018/2019 season was declared the year of upheaval after the separation from coach Thomas Tuchel, which is why, despite the clear lead in the table, those responsible hesitated a long time before taking the risk of publicly confirming that they had decided to become champions . In the end, Bayern celebrated the title and at BVB they came to the conclusion in the subsequent seasonal analysis that it might have been better to say clearly earlier that the championship was aimed for.
There followed a change in the communication strategy: They wanted to “try everything to become champions,” said Watzke a year ago, which was understood as an announcement to FC Bayern. Now after each defeat, somebody spoke smugly of the “self-proclaimed championship candidate”, which in the subtext meant nothing more than: They opened their mouths too far. “To be honest – we don’t need this game anymore,” said Zorc now. “It is clear that we will continue to be very ambitious as Borussia Dortmund.” The people in charge are switching to the line of Lucien Favre, who alienates with full-bodied announcements.
However, the game that those responsible would like to end has been running for a long time. Because of course the wish for the title lives in the team, which was recently explicitly reinforced with courageous and confident leaders like Emre Can or the incredible Erling Haaland. The championship “must always be the goal if you have such a team”, Hummels recently explained, and Haaland told the “Sport-Bild”: “We have the quality to be champions.”
In fact, a lot is possible in the upcoming season. Many of the young players continue to mature, with Achraf Hakimi only one important professional has left, and with Moukoko they have a second center forward from November, who was missing recently. In addition, the always flaring discussions about Lucien Favre have stopped. It is now well known that the Swiss has certain weaknesses, but it is now easier for officials and also many critical spirits from the area to endure.
Because Favre’s qualities as a specialist and integrative force have also convinced skeptics that there is simply no better head coach available for BVB at the moment. “We have a growing relationship of trust with each other,” said Zorc, so it was not necessary to talk to the coach about an extension of the contract ending in the summer of 2021. BVB could start the new season with the greatest optimism. If it weren’t for FC Bayern, which has always stood in the way when the Dortmunders were just about to fulfill their big dream of a party with a bowl at Borsigplatz.