Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has delivered a rather sobering message in an interview with Bild in which he seeks to explain away Dortmund’s failure to finally wrest the Bundesliga title away from Bayern.
“We have very different conditions. Borussia Dortmund must overperform, Bayern must underperform – and if both deliver normally, Bayern will be champions for the 12th time. Whether people like to hear it or not, that’s a fact”
BVB boss Watzke admitted he didn’t shed any tears after the final day drama, but paid tribute to the amazing support shown by the fans inside the Signal Iduna Park. “I don’t cry out of frustration. I only cry when I see old films – I can cry, out of emotion.
“I would have preferred to thank each and every one of them [the fans] with a handshake. You can laugh about it at other league stadiums, but it was a demonstration of solidarity, which is more common in this region than anywhere else. This is exactly what will give our team strength again in the coming months.
The 63-year-old also however admitted that the pressure and the weight of expectation got to the Dortmund players leading to the final day draw with Mainz. “Unintentionally, of course, there was an unbelievable pressure of expectations from all sides. Obviously some players, especially those who have never been champions, ended up not being able to handle that pressure. At the end of the day, it might have been too much for them”.
The interview gives two opposing reasons for Borussia Dortmund’s failure to win the title- an inbuilt advantage for Bayern Munich and a lack of the correct mentality on the side of the Schwarzgelben.
Yes, Bayern have a financial advantage in the transfer market, but BVB are not exactly shrinking violets in terms of expenditure on quality players. Dortmund had their best opportunity to dethrone Bayern this season, but failing to do so did not come down to finances or the two Klassiker matches.
Failing to beat Mainz (a team that had lost four on the trot previously), failing to beat VfL Bochum (a team at the bottom end of the table), and failing to beat VfB Stuttgart when leading 3-2 in the depth of stoppage time is what ultimately cost Dortmund the Meisterschale in the title run-in.
This then backs up the notion that the pressure got to the players. Admitting this publicly however might not be the best idea Watzke ever had as it adds to the outside impression that the club just don’t have what it takes and plants further doubt in the player’s minds.
As mentioned Bayern do have a higher market value, larger annual budget, and a bigger slice of the international TV money and the disparity is only going to increase with every season Dortmund fail to win the Bundesliga. These advantages however do not make Bayern invincible as this season proved.
The wisdom of making excuses will be questioned as it already gives the impression that Bayern have the edge. The Bavarians will no doubt strengthen their squad this summer and come back stronger for the 2023-24 campaign. Borussia Dortmund will again be one of the challengers, but the ‘mentality’ debate will rage on and Watzke’s comments don’t help to quell it.