Dortmund's AGM on Sunday saw CEO, Hans-Joachim Watzke, throw his support behind beleaguered coach Peter Bosz. But it’s Watzke’s poor decision-making that should be blamed for the crisis, writes DW’s Michael Da Silva.
Peter Bosz's honeymoon period at Signal Iduna Park is well and truly over, with their seven-game unbeaten run at the start of the Bundesliga season all but a distant memory.
But while Bosz has struggled to implement his methods on the field in recent weeks, the man ultimately responsible for the club's performance — Hans-Joachim Watzke — has remained oddly immune to criticism. Watzke may have backed the man he appointed in the summer, but he doesn't have another choice right now.
"I have the clear expectation Peter that this week you'll pull out all the stops and leave no stone unturned," Watzke brazenly told Bosz at the AGM. "We have to get back on track quickly."
Easy for Watzke to say. This is a problem of Watzke's making, with the CEO ignoring the steady progress the club were making under Tuchel and disposing of a man who had just guided them to the German Cup and, just weeks before, a run to the quarter finals of the Champions League that was only ended by an excellent Monaco side.
Then there was the episode with chief scout Sven Mislintat. The highly respected Mislintat has restructured and professionalized the club's scouting procedures since he joined in 2006 and was responsible for bringing in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ousmane Dembele among others. But Mislintat was banned from the club's training ground and told not to contact any players or staff after falling out with Tuchel in January 2016 over the transfer of Oliver Torres from Atletico Madrid.
By firing Tuchel and bringing in Bosz, Watzke had at least appeared to have appeased Mislintat — but he shocked the club by accepting Arsenal's offer to become their head of recruitment in London. A coup for Arsenal, but a damning state of affairs at Westfalenstadion.
"I probably never would have considered thinking about other clubs," Mislintat told German publication Kicker last week.
"But the training ground ban, initiated by the club's former coach, as well as the instructions to keep away from the inner circle, from players, from the staff, from many friends with whom I worked so closely throughout the years, all of that influenced my thinking. I already had offers in the past years, but I never really considered making changes."
Dortmund's sporting director Michael Zorc released a statement claiming that it was only an "extraordinary offer” from Arsenal that tempted Mislintat, but the self-confessed "Borussian” had no reason to leave Dortmund given his affinity to the club and the success he had enjoyed there.
This all leads back to Watzke, who acknowledged Mislintat's departure at the AGM, saying only that he "regrets the way he treated him”.
Dortmund are beyond the point of regret and it's about time the club's top level hierarchy were held accountable. Bosz is not blameless for Dortmund's slide towards crisis, but his errors have been of tactical nature and, at this early stage of his tenure, can be forgiven.
Bosz can yet go on to become a great Dortmund coach and Watzke is right when he says "We have to get back on track quickly”. But should Dortmund fail to do this, it should be the CEO's head that rolls before Bosz's.