Opinion: Reasons for patience and optimism for Borussia Dortmund fans

Borussia Dortmund (Photo by SASCHA SCHUERMANN/AFP via Getty Images)
Borussia Dortmund (Photo by SASCHA SCHUERMANN/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Sebastian Kehl
Sebastian Kehl. (Photo by Helge Prang – GES Sportfoto/Getty Images) /

This summer transfer window was probably one of the most encouraging windows that I can readily recall in Borussia Dortmund history. I would even venture to say that BVB might have had one of the better transfer windows in all of Europe this summer. All told, there were a total of nine players brought in that could feature at some point in time this season for the first team, with an additional nine players leaving the club.

Adding to this incredible summer of turnover, Borussia Dortmund made no fewer than ten staff changes this off-season, with eight of those changes being new faces to the club. Of course, Edin Terzic and Sebastian Kehl certainly aren’t new to the team, but they have both entered into brand new territory with BVB (yes, I know that Terzic was interim head coach in 2021, but being appointed as permanent coach on a multi-year contract is much different).

With all of the much-needed movement during this past summer, there was a great deal of excitement and anticipation leading up to the opening game of the 2022/23 season. Even with the loss of Sébastien Haller to his cancer diagnosis, the expectation was that Borussia Dortmund had turned over a new leaf and were gearing up to make their best run at a title in years.

But now four games into the season, including the DFB-Pokal first-round game against TSV 1860 Munich, I can’t help but feel a bit sick to my stomach in thinking that the chronic issues that have plagued Borussia Dortmund for years on-end have not actually gone away.

Here’s the thing, though – Borussia Dortmund have undergone a lot of changes this summer. There’s always some squad turnover. That’s just the nature of the business when it comes to professional football. But what Dortmund did this summer was actually quite remarkable. The many player changes by themselves would have been something, but when you throw in a wholesale shift in the coaching staff too?

I really don’t think that we fully understand what all goes into such an upheaval in terms of performance and expectations on the pitch. Of course, these guys are professionals, and there are still numerous players for BVB who are mainstays or have been there for several years. But for those guys just getting brought into the fold – players like Nico Schlotterbeck, Niklas Süle, Karim Adeyemi – there have to be some growing pains, right?

In other words, this Borussia Dortmund team is really fresh. For the most part, they’ve really only had about a month to train together and get to know one another. Even then, early injuries to Süle, Adeyemi, Ozcan and others have thrown a wrench into that. It can sometimes take months for teams to really begin to gel together as they learn how to play with new teammates in a new system.

Which of course highlights the fact that the entire squad is now being forced into learning a new system for the third straight year. In three seasons, we have seen three different management changes. Lucien Favre coached the team up until he was sacked in December 2020, leading to Edin Terzic taking over in the interim role. Just as Terzic got the team up to speed in 2021, the season ended and Marco Rose took over with a year basically consisting of tactical chaos.

At this point in the season, there really isn’t much more that we can expect from a squad that is clearly still figuring things out. This team needs time to get themselves sorted out, and as frustrating as it is, they’ve only just begun this journey.  Borussia Dortmund is only now in the infancy of the new direction that Sebastian Kehl and Edin Terzic are leading them in, and what we are experiencing now are the growing pains that come with that territory.