New Borussia Dortmund coach Stöger tips cap to predecessor | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 13.12.2017
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New Borussia Dortmund coach Stöger tips cap to predecessor

After eight Bundesliga games without a victory, Borussia Dortmund got back to winning ways against Mainz on Tuesday night. But new coach Peter Stöger wasn't taking the credit.

The red cap had been replaced by a black one and the billy goat replaced by a yellow "1909," the year Borussia Dortmund was founded, but it was otherwise the same Peter Stöger who observed from the touchline in Mainz on Tuesday night.

Motionless, intense, calm and observant, the Austrian passed his initiation in the only way he knows how, as the struggling Black and Yellows finally ended their disastrous run of form with a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Sokratis and Shinji Kagawa.

Just three days after his lunch date with his mother in Vienna was interrupted by a phone call from BVB CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke, a quick pat on the back for Christian Pulisic and a quiet word in the ear of Julian Weigl was about as energetic as it got from the 51-year-old former Cologne coach.

And it seemed that little had changed on the pitch either in an opening period where the best chances fell to the hosts, the dangerous Suat Serdar hitting the bar after just seven minutes. BVB on the other hand looked all too familiar and all too pedestrian, their endless horizontal passing matched only by the horizontal movement of the Dortmund ultras, bouncing back and forth across the away end.

Dortmund trainer Peter Stöger on Tuesday (picture alliance / Thomas Frey/dpa)

Dortmund trainer Peter Stöger on Tuesday

Calm under pressure

But still Stöger was unmoved and even remained so ten minutes after the break when Sokratis half-volleyed Dortmund into the lead after fellow defender Ömer Toprak's header had come back off the post, the two center-backs operating in tandem.

Is that what sporting director Michael Zorc meant when spoke of Stöger's ability to restore some defensive coherence? Probably not but, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang anonymous and Andrey Yarmolenko still misfiring, there will have been no complaints from the Dortmund hierarchy.

Captain Marcel Schmelzer hadn't pulled punches in his criticism of his team's recent performances, leading to speculation that was all was not well within the Dortmund dressing room. So when Sokratis lead his teammates over to the bench following his goal, one suspected that Stöger had at least restored some sense of togetherness which had appeared to have utterly deserted the Dortmunders over the past two months.

Shinji Kagawa celebrates after scoring to make it 0-2 against Mainz (Getty Images/Bongarts/S. Hofmann)

Shinji Kagawa celebrates after scoring to make it 0-2 against Mainz

Credit to the old coach

When Kagawa wrapped up the three points late on – equaling Stöger's personal tally for the season in one night – there was finally a display of emotion from the Austrian, a hug for Zorc and a thumbs-up to Watzke up above.

"The win does all of us of good,” said Stöger, referring to both Dortmund's bad run and his own poor record this season.

"But many of the positive things which I saw today are down to Peter Bosz, who has left a very good situation behind for me. I don't have a single negative word to say about him and I wish him all the best. Part of this victory belongs to him."

The cap may be different, the job bigger and the expectations higher. But the new Borussia Dortmund coach is the same modest Peter Stöger.

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