“I want to play exciting, successful football,” said Borussia Dortmund’s new head coach Peter Bosz at his unveiling Tuesday. DW takes a look at what lies in store for him at the Westfalenstadion.Former Ajax coach Peter Bosz has been unveiled as the new head coach of Borussia Dortmund. The 53-year-old Dutchman takes over from Thomas Tuchel, whose two-year stint in Dortmund came to an acrimonious end in May following a series of public disagreements with senior players the club’s management.
Yet despite off-field distractions, BVB’s 2016/17 campaign was ultimately successful, securing automatic Champions League qualification, winning the the German Cup and reaching the Champions League quarterfinals. Under Bosz, they will be expected to kick on.
But the squad remains young and, while Bayern Munich may have strolled to a fifth consecutive title, big money has made the competition behind them stiffer than ever. Backed by billionaire software mogul Dietmar Hopp, fourth-placed Hoffenheim pushed Dortmund all the way while Red Bull-backed RB Leipzig finished three points ahead of them.
We take a look at some of the issues Bosz will be expected to address in Dortmund:
Bundesliga top-scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has made no secret of his desire to one day move away from Dortmund and the rumors gathered pace towards the end of the season. Despite the player frequently name-checking Real Madrid as a dream destination, the most recent reports from France suggested that Paris Saint-Germain had agreed a 70 million euro deal for the Gabonese striker, reports which were quickly denied by Dortmund.
In Ousmane Dembelé, Christian Pulisic, André Schürrle, Shinji Kagawa and Marco Reus, plus new signings Mahmoud Dahoud, Dan-Axel Zagadou and Maximilian Philipp, there is no shortage of creative talent at the Westfalenstadion. But should Aubameyang leave, Bosz will need to find a way of plugging a 31-goal hole in Dortmund’s attack.
A leaky defense
Although only three Bundesliga sides conceded fewer goals than Borussia Dortmund last season, the Black and Yellows’ season was nevertheless characterized by some alarming defensive lapses. With coach Tuchel frequently alternating between a back-four and a back-five and failing to settle on a consistent defensive line-up, Dortmund were always prone to conceding goals.
In the league, they conceded two or more goals on ten occasions whilst in the Champions League, despite setting a group stage record for goals scored, they still shipped four in a memorable match against Legia Warsaw. In the quarterfinals, French champions Monaco put six past them over two legs.
Peter Bosz’s young Ajax side boasted the joint-best defense in Holland as they finished second in the Eredivisie. But they showed a worrying tendency to concede goals away in Europe, threatening to allow first Schalke and then Lyon back into their quarterfinal and semifinal ties respectively.
The biggest cloud hanging over Dortmund by the end of the season emanated from the corridors and offices of the Westfalenstadion, where personalities and egos had clashed for months. Relations between Tuchel and Hans-Joachim Watzke had been strained ever since the CEO sold Mats Hummels, Ilkay Gündogan and Henrikh Mkhitaryan against the coach’s wishes, before the two publically contradicted each other in the aftermath of the attack on the team bus.
There were tensions in the squad too. Younger players such as Dembele and Pulisic have publically expressed their gratitude to Tuchel but older, more influential members of the squad often considered Tuchel’s tactical instructions too complex and took issue with his personal skills. When Nuri Sahin was omitted from the cup final squad at the last minute, captain Marcel Schmelzer publically questioned the coach’s decision and backed his teammate.
Whether Bosz is able to establish a constructive professional relationship with both his superiors and his players will soon become clear, but the Dutchman is also no stranger to conflict. According to Dutch media reports, he left Ajax following tactical disagreements with members of his coaching team, including assistant Dennis Bergkamp.
The average age of Dortmund’s starting line-up last season was 25.2 years – the sixth youngest in the Bundesliga but still almost three years older than the avergae age of Bosz’s Ajax side at just 22.4 years. With players such as Dembele (20), Pulisic (18), Julian Weigl (21), Raphael Guerreiro (23) and Matthias Ginter (23) all key members of the squad, Bosz will have no shortage of youth to work with in Dortmund.
Now he also needs the right blend of experience which arguably enabled Feyenoord and Manchester United to beat Ajax to the Eredivisie and Europa League respectively.