It was a slide that shocked the football world. Borussia Dortmund, only 18 months from playing in the Champions League final at Wembley, were in the bottom three of the Bundesliga. Relegation was a real possibility, and Jurgen Kloop, who had been one of the hottest coaches in Europe, was becoming toxic. Nobody wanted anything to do with him.
But Klopp did not throw in the towel and quit, and he persuaded his stars to stay at the club during the January transfer window. The result has been four league wins in a row, a streak that has seen Dortmund move from the bottom three to mid-table. They are now only eight points out of fourth place and a Champions League qualify place.
But despite their struggles in the league, Klopp’s side has been outstanding in cup competitions this year. On Tuesday night Dortmund booked their place in the DFB-Pokal quarter-finals after beating third-division Dynamo Dresden 2-0 thanks to Ciro Immobile’s second-half goals.
The Italy striker pounced on a mistake by Dresden captain Michael Hefele to give Dortmund a 50th-minute lead and lit up the third-round tie to put the 2012 cup winners into the last eight. Immobile then added Dortmund’s second when he fired home a superb cross from Poland winger Jakub Blaszczykowski on 90 minutes.
Having failed to make his mark in the Bundesliga this season since joining from Turin, Immobile is turning into Dortmund’s European and Cup king having netted four goals in six UEFA Champions League games with three in two Cup matches.
In the Champions League, Dortmund lost 2-1 to Juventus in Turin last week in the first round of their round of 16 match. Dortmund will be feeling confident that they can overturn that at home, in front of the yellow wall, especially after getting that valuable away goal in Italy.
If Klopp can guide his side back into a Champions League place, at progress in both the DFB-Pokal and Champions League, this would arguably be his best coaching performance. Klopp has been reluctant to leave Germany in the past, but I wonder after this season, whether he is ready for a new challenge.
Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone is the most in demand manager in Europe, but Klopp will have more than a few suitors if he decides to leave the Bundesliga this summer.
If Klopp leaves, where do you think he will go? Could he move to Arsenal and replace Arsene Wenger?