Borussia Mönchengladbach’s club nickname of die Fohlen (the foals) gives the impression that youth is a key element within the club. Daniel Farke has a whole host of youngsters ready to go, but he’s caught between a rock and a hard place as to when and how to unleash them with Bundesliga points at a premium over giving youth it’s chance.
The nickname goes back to mid-1960’s when the Rhein club won promotion to the Bundesliga with a group of players with an average age of 21.5. Players like Günter Netzer, Jupp Heynckes, Bernd Rupp, and Berti Vogts would go on to become club legends, but were given the moniker by journalist Wilhelm August Hurtmanns.
The current squad under Daniel Farke is the fifth oldest starting XI in the Bundesliga with an average age of 27.01. This is despite having a whole raft of talented and hungry youngsters in the stable ready to step up to the Bundesliga stage.
The dilemma for the coach is how to give these Foals the game time they need at the expense of his more experienced stars and without sacrificing vital Bundesliga points in the process. It is not a problem unique to Gladbach, but they do have a particularly large group of youngsters ready to go.
The danger is that without the game time frustrations will grow and pastures new will be sought as happened with Louis Jordan Beyer who is now in the English second tier with Burnley.
19-year-old American Joe Scally is the one, who this season has nailed down a regular starting berth at right back, while at 21 Manu Koné can still be classed as a foal in comparison to the likes of Lars Stindl.
Luca Netz has had game time, but with Ramy Bensebaini to compete with this has been limited. On the plus side for Netz (but not for Gladbach) the Algerian looks set to move on either in the winter transfer window or next summer. Rocco Reitz (20) has been a regular in the squad but has been on the field for just two minutes (in the hammering at Bremen). Fellow midfielders Conor Noß (21) and Oscar Fraulo (18) are yet to feature.
18-year-old Luxembourg striker Yvandro Borges Sanches had made two appearances totalling 22 minutes, while Jacob Italiano signed as a 17-year-old from Perth Glory is now 19 and still waiting to make the move from Regionalliga to Bundesliga.
Speaking about Borges Sanches after a pre-season friendly with 1860 Munich Farke said, “I’m not a fan of praising young players too early. This is preparation. It was a test against a third division team. If he wants to play for us in the first team, it goes on for him on another level.
“We still have a lot of work to do before he’s a ready player. He has a lot of road ahead of him. But the boy has set out – and now let’s see how quickly he can reach his goal.”