As the saying goes: ‘It is not over till the fat lady sings” but as far as Borussia Dortmund and the Bundesliga title is concerned, she is on stage, tapping the microphone and poised to belt out her first big number.
The Schwarzgelben’s 1-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in Tuesday’s Klassiker has handed the Bavarians a seven-point lead at the top of the table with just six matches still to play. BVB’s chances of finally usurping Bayern as champions after seven years of dominance look very slim now, and for the second season running, a highly promising season looks to be ending in Bayern’s shadow once more.
Following the loss at the Signal Iduna Park, Favre was a little cryptic when quizzed about BVB’s inability to overcome Bayern under his guidance. “That’s what they have been saying for months. I don’t read the newspapers, but I know what’s going on. I will make a statement in a few weeks. I’ll stay calm and keep faith in myself.”
Few words, but to many, an indication that he won’t be reaching the end of his current contract, which runs to the end of the 2020/21 season. That’s the way Lothar Matthaus has read it saying on Sky after the game, “Favre goes, Niko Kovac comes. That was my first thought after those comments,” he told Sky.
“I had not expected such a clear statement from Lucien Favre, even after a defeat. Is his hunger still there? Or is he going to do what he’s done at both his previous clubs [Hertha and Mönchengladbach] and leave his contract?”
Tabloid newspaper Bild has also reported that contact between the BVB bosses and Kovac has been made in the last few months.
While the former Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayern Munich trainer will be on many people’s list of potential successors, there are a number of question marks over his suitability for the Dortmund hotseat. So, who are the other candidates should Dortmund and Favre part ways?
The name of Eric Ten Hag might (should) be top of the Hans-Joachim Watzke and Matthias Sammer’s list. The Ajax coach has made quite a name for himself during his spell at Amsterdam, reaching the Champions League semi-final in 2019. He was linked with the Bayern job back in November when Kovac was sacked but stressed his commitment to Ajax at the time. Sammer knows him well from his time as Bayern II coach between 2013 and 2015.
Another top coach out of employment at the moment and looking for big club is former Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino (whose side beat Ajax in the aforementioned Champions League semi-final). His profile is certainly big enough for BVB, but the question is whether Dortmund’s is big enough for him. Is he holding out for the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid or Manchester United?
There will of course be many other names linked, but we’ll save the deeper debate until such time that Favre does leave Dortmund. As in so much of the world right now- interesting times lay ahead for BVB as the fallout from this season arrives.