Eintracht Frankfurt’s Champions League hopes suffered a jolt at Borussia Mönchengladbach, who have turned the corner under Marco Rose. For Gladbach’s next coach Adi Hütter, it was a miserable trip to his next home.
There's a pattern emerging. When Borussia Dortmund announced the sacking of their coach Lucien Favre, they hit an abysmal run of form until their next permanent coach was announced.
The same curse also bedeviled Gladbach, who sunk like a stone when Marco Rose said he was off. And based on their crushing defeat in Mönchengladbach on Saturday, history could be about to repeat itself for Frankfurt – just when they can least afford it.
Frankfurt midfielder Sebastian Rode was having none of it though, insisting that "it would be far too easy to blame it on that."
Adi Hütter was identified by Gladbach's sporting director, Max Eberl, as the natural heir to Rose's throne. Both are products of Red Bull's coaching conveyor belt and both are proponents of progressive, expansive football. Despite the giddiness that accompanied the Xabi Alonso rumors, Hütter always made far more sense.
"We played against Young Boys when Adi was in charge of them and we've always followed his career,” Eberl said just ahead of Saturday's game. "We met up over the international break and had a chat.”
That chat led to the appointment of the man who had led Frankfurt to victories over Wolfsburg and Borussia Dortmund, their two chief rivals for Champions League qualification, in their previous two games. Frankfurt, whose sporting director Fredi Bobic is also on his way out of the club, have been playing with a swagger not seen by a Frankfurt team in at least three decades, and with 11 wins from 15 league games since the turn of the year, it's clear to see why Eberl is so enamored with Hütter.
Frankfurt's task at Borussia-Park was never going to be easy though. Rose's team are rejuvenated and came into this game having navigated themselves out of a harrowing run of results. But for all of the quality Gladbach showed, this was a deeply worrying performance by Frankfurt. The attributes that have bookended their campaign – combativeness, directness, and clinical finishing – were all conspicuous in their absence.
Instead it was a Jonas Hofmann-inspired Gladbach who out-Frankfurted Frankfurt. A goal and an assist embellished Hofmann's stats further as he continues to enjoy the productive season in front of goal of his career – eight goals and counting in all competitions. By the time Ramy Bensebaini and Hannes Wolf added a third and fourth respectively, Hütter's team had been routed by his next employers.
"Of course it doesn't look good today,” a crestfallen Hütter said after the game. "Even if you are seven points ahead, you have to get it over the you have to get it over the finishing line. I want us to show a reaction on Tuesday."
With an Englische woche approaching, Frankfurt don't have to wait long to get things right. The visit of Augsburg is the start of a favorable run-in for Frankfurt, who are still in the driving seat for Champions League football. But with Dortmund ready to pounce, Hütter must ensure his team show him the reaction he craves. For his sake as much as theirs.