Borussia Dortmund’s new manager is under immense pressure. Having started the league campaign in a promising manner, Peter Bosz is being critsized for his poor results of late, which saw Dortmund surrender a 5 point lead at the top of the Bundesliga to already fall 6 points behind Bayern Munich and 2 points behind RB Leipzig. The Black and Yellows also have seen their Champions league hopes destroyed after collecting only 2 points from 4 games. Large groups of BVB fans have made known their dissatisfaction with the club’s recent performance and some are even asking for the manager to be sacked.
However, talk of a managerial change in November is too soon. I would be very surprised if Bosz isn’t given time until the end of the season to sort things out. So here are 5 possible ways the Dutch manager can redeem himself.
#1 Change the Formation
Bosz has mainly implemented a 4-3-3 formation since his arrival at the Signal Iduna Park. His emphasis on keeping possession and building out from the back made him successful at Ajax. But the “Ajax way” has already been figured out by Bundesliga teams.
Bosz tried to change a few details against Bayern. For example, he used Shinji Kagawa in a new role behind Pierre-Emrick Aubameyang (read more about the tactics of this match here). Kagawa moved further ahead from the rest of the midfield and assisted Aubameyang in pressing Bayern’s centerbacks. It looked as though BVB would get the better of Bayern in the starting minutes, but in the end a lack of concentration from the defenders and inability to convert chances cost BVB the game.
If there is one positive Bosz can take away from the loss, it’s that tactical “tinkering” is sometimes good, and BVB needs a whole bunch of that in the coming weeks. Be it a 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1, or 4-1-4-1, the team needs a new formation because the current one clearly is not working.
#2 Fix the Centerback Pairing
Sokratis-Marc Bartra has been the most used partnership at the back this season for BVB. However, Sokratis’ form hasn’t been good in recent games. He has often been caught on the break and his passing game hasn’t been on the standard that is required for a team playing possession-oriented football.
In the little time they played together, on the other hand, Ömer Toprak and Bartra seem to have a good understanding. Bosz may want to look to use these two together more often in order to solve some of the recurring defensive issues. Youngster Zagadou and the experienced Subotic are also around to offer a helping hand.
Bosz needs to decide his first choice defensive pairing and stick to it. ESPNFC’s senior writer and renowned author Gabriele Marcotti has put it well (though a bit harshly) in his weekly column “Marcotti’s Musings”:
“Bosz says he plans to tighten things up. Not chopping and changing your line up would be a good start: just three outfield players have played more than two-thirds of Dortmund’s league minutes this season. Actually practicing defensive movements and not leaving your central defenders exposed time and again would be good too.”
#3 Dahoud in, Castro out!
‘What happened to Mahmoud Dahoud?’ is the question on many BVB lips right now. The 21 years old German made the move from Gladbach in the summer, but has been left out of the squad in recent games. The youngster who was thought to become Ilkay Gündogan’s replacement and was hoped to create a formidable partnership with fellow German Julian Weigl, has seen little playing time since getting back from injury. He is being overlooked by the manager, and the reason isn’t clear.
Instead Bosz has insisted on playing Gonzalo Castro. The midfielder looks like a shadow of his old self with sluggish and uninspiring performances this season. Putting a young and vibrant Dahoud in, rather than an aging Castro, could improve the team’s creativity. According to Whoscored.com, in the 3 Bundesliga games he has played this season, Dahoud has created 3 assists.
Perhaps the reason Bosz prefers Castro is because he might offer more physicality and discipline defensively, rather than the attack-minded Dahoud. But we haven’t seen any improvements in the team’s defense instead we have witnessed BVB’s midfield fail to create enough chances for Aubameyang, something to think about for Mr. Bosz’s man.
#4 Implement a Plan B
You shouldn’t do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. If it’s not working, change it. Unfortunately, Bosz doesn’t seem to agree with these maxims. He’s reiterated time and again that he will not compromise his football philosophy. But how long will the team have to keep on its poor run of form until the manager resorts to plan B? (If there ever is one, that is. )
I’m sure most BVB fans will like to see entertaining football from their team. I am also sure that most of them wouldn’t mind if the team starts playing long balls in order to overcome defensive teams. It’s okay to try something new.
BVB has a tall striker in Alexander Isak and Auba, who is not so bad with headers as well, so why not try crosses more often? Why not improve set piece deliveries? Why not try something – anything – new? It’s time for change!
#5 Invest in the January Window
Bosz must look to the winter pause to not only have an extended time with the players to work on tactics but to also bolster the squad by bringing in new faces during the January window.
After a blistering start to the season Auba has been on a slump. He needs a competition that can push him to get even better and step in and score when the Gabonese isn’t on form. Even though Dortmund has an exciting striker in Isak, the Swede is still very young and inexperienced and isn’t expected to lead the front line anytime soon.
There have been rumors linking Ajax’s Kasper Dølberg with his former Bosz (see what I did there). The Danish striker can offer a much needed boost for Dortmund’s attack. PSG’s Kevin Trapp is also another name being associated with the Black and Yellows. The German keeper has lost his place to Areola and is looking to depart the Paris club. His arrival will be a good motivation for Roman Bürki, who hasn’t been his usual self this season.
Dortmund have important couple of games in front of them to get their Bundesliga title hopes alive. It starts with an away trip to the Mercedes Benz Arena to face promoted Stuttgart this Friday. The game won’t be a walk in the park however, as the Schwabians have an impressive home record this season.
That game will be followed by ‘The mother of all derbies’, as Schalke 04 comes to town. The Royal Blues are currently on level points with their neighbours and are enjoying a good time under their young manager Domenico Tedessco.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say this game might be the turning point of the season for the Black and Yellows. The Coach needs to embrace the atmosphere and feeling of the biggest derby in Germany if he wishes to lengthen his stay at the Signal Iduna Park.
It’s time for decisions, Peter Bosz!