Borussia Monchengladbach’s recent hammering at the hands of Borussia Dortmund wasn’t something that surprised many.
After scoring through Raffael early in the game, it all fell apart for Andre Schubert’s men, who now lie at the 13th spot in the table. Although, the loss was their sixth of the season, the Foals looked like the side we have known this season- clueless and hopeless.
Things haven’t been the same ever since their 4-0 loss at Veltins Arena to Schalke back in October. Gladbach have failed to win a single league game after that hammering, which came right after their hard-fought 2-1 loss against Barcelona in the Champions League.
The recent 4-0 hammering at the hands of the Catalans at the Nou Camp only piled on Andre Schubert’s woes. To those who are surprised at the state of affairs at Borussia Park recently, its been a while since they’re persisting after the season began well enough.
After Lucien Favre was sacked after having failed to win a single game in the first five last season, Schubert was brought in as an interim coach at Borussia Park.
While few expected him to do as well as he did, Schubert won seven consecutive games and Gladbach went onto an eleven game unbeaten run to climb to the Champions League spots in the table.
A 5-0 loss at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen at the BayArena did halt their impressive run, but Schubert was handed the spot of the permanent coach, as Gladbach went onto finish fourth in the Bundesliga.
Schubert’s mere appointment did raise eyebrows as the German had negligible experience of managing a club as big as Gladbach in the past.
While his career as a player never took off, Schubert was appointed the head coach of St. Pauli. He could help the club win only a single game in seven outings and was sacked after a tumultuous reign. Fortunately though, Schubert did end up managing Gladbach II in 2015.
Although, Gladbach’s performances and style had earned them rave reviews from many, the variation from Lucien Favre’s high-pressing style was quite low. Schubert had adopted quite a similar style- highly creative, involving freedom and pressing up front.
A major highlight was Gladbach’s impressive 3-1 triumph over Bayern Munich and a 4-0 sauntering of Stuttgart. But all of it transpired in the absence of European football, as the Foals had finished fourth in the Champions League group.
While the formation ranged from a 4-2-3-1 to a flat 4-4-2, it was apparent that Schubert’s own ideas as a manager at Gladbach weren’t coming through. The line-up hardly changed, giving glimpses of the fact that the shadow of Favre’s impressive four-year stint at the club hadn’t gone.
This season has been attempt to do just that. Schubert’s side has looked to discover its own system as fiddling around with all kinds of formations hasn’t given consistent results.
The campaign started off well enough for Foals fans as Gladbach managed to oust possible Champions League rivals Bayer Leverkusen 2-1, ut few knew that the win over the Roger Schmidt’s Die Werkself would be their best till mid-December.
The appearance of the real Andre Schubert could be deemed as one of the reasons for Gladbach’s recent struggles, as he is still fiddling around with a lot of things.
Injuries to Raffael and Thorgan Hazard didn’t help too, as the bluntness in attack was very clear when Gladbach took to the pitch in their absence. The presence of Champions League football has taken a toll too as the languidity in terms of pressing and energy has been found wanting many times.
Last season, Gladbach players were usually seen running around the pitch, closing the opposition down in full throttle mode.
The lack of an identity and an approach to adhere to means that the side doesn’t have the same amount of certainty to it as last season. And this has given the impression of the players not knowing what their position is.
Tony Jantschke has been utilised in three different positions already- centre-back, right back and even as a defensive midfielder. American star Fabian Johnson too, has played in a variety of positions, including as a striker alongside Andre Hahn, out on the left and out of the right.
More so, the business that was done in the transfer window saw Gladbach run short of a proper forward, who has the reputation of finding the back of the net regularly. They’ve scored only 13 times in the Bundesliga this season, with their highest scorers Hazard, Lars Stindl and Raffael getting only three goals each.
Although, Raffael was Gladbach’s leading goalscorer last season, injuries have derailed his and the progress of many others this season. The Brazilian has missed eight games already this season, while the dynamic and effective Hazard has missed five.
During their absence, Gladbach lacked someone who had the ability to drop into a number ten position and carry the ball forward into the little pockets of spaces in the opposition midfield.
The absence of Patrick Herrmann, who is yet to reach his supposed peak, has been concerning too, much like summer signing Josip Drmic.
And the exit of Granit Xhaka hasn’t helped too. The Swiss star in enjoying life at Arsenal, but Gladbach seem to lack characters like him in the midfield. Those who can win the ball back with ferocity and supply it forward with efficiency.
Apart from that, Xhaka’s determination in the heart of the park enthuses the whole side with the urgency and hunger to play with more desire. And that seems to be missing right now.
While the recent failures are down to a host of reasons, Schubert’s tendency to finally start being himself is the biggest one.
All other factors seem to revolving around that one factor, which is prompting the German to make changes to how his team looks.
With Gladbach now out of the Champions League, the European hangover will slowly fade away to help them play with a bit more vigor and energy.
As a threatening sword hangs over flailing Schubert, things can only get better from here on.