met must have been sweet, even if he hid it well; 114 days after leaving Borussia Dortmund, Marco Rose was back in the coaching saddle with RB Leipzig – for an immediate clash with his former employers. If his predecessor, and successor, Edin Terzić, had had the upper hand before the start, the rest of the Saturday evening would not have been smoother for Rose.
After a four-goal start to the season at Eintracht Frankfurt and Shakhtar Donetsk brought the curtain down on the Domenico Tedesco era, Leipzig went on to win 3-0, giving Rose a great debut the tribunal. He would not be tempted to discuss any haze, insisting there was none (“I made great friends there”) despite the relatively short time since the split. “In the end,” he told Sky, “it didn’t come together anymore, and I had to leave. But life goes on.”
Obviously it’s easier to be magnanimous when those former employers have been taught a lesson, even if it rarely felt like a ‘see what you’re missing’ display. Rose’s season in Dortmund started with high expectations and it was not easy. He came on the defensive; his three months of notice served in the spring and summer at Borussia Mönchengladbach was uncomfortable, even borderline unpleasant. His new employers had paid €5m to get him out of Gladbach and if they weren’t expecting the Bundesliga title, they were expecting something – direction, drive, a plan.
So, although BVB finished in common second place behind Bayern, it felt like a campaign of bare minimums. Rose’s side were thrashed in the Champions League by Ajax and Sporting, watched their Europa League exit to Rangers and dumped out of the DfB Pokal – which Terzić helped them win in fine style the previous season that – at the second tier of St. Paul.
There were extenuating circumstances. The squad was cut to one, which lacked focus and balance. It felt like Rose had gone in to sort out a garage with more cobwebs and old unpacking boxes than he was doing. It was widely expected to get a second series but when he turned up for his metaphorical meeting at the BBC, Tony Hares – or CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke – had different ideas. The post-season conversation revealed unbridgeable gaps, and Rose was gone.
Some, trying to put his impact on this first win into perspective, will point out how little threat there is from the opposition. There is no doubt that it was a poor BVB on the day, still searching for a separate identity under Terzić, who is inheriting the problems left by a coach who took a series of questions from him, and we go on on and on. Dortmund were sluggish and powderpuff in defense and midfield, failing to get a shot on target in a Bundesliga game for the first time in nearly three years.
But Leipzig had “intensity, spirit and energy”, as Dominik Szoboszlai, a prolific goal scorer, said after boxing out Jude Bellingham. His words (perhaps unwittingly) reflected all that was missing about Tedesco, where possession was valued but something more typical of this club and their model was missing. This was less ball, more dynamism.
Rose was always going to be able to do that pretty quickly. Born in Leipzig, former head coach of RB Salzburg before continuing his career in Germany, the new man understands the tone and the playbook. It is clear that his arrival is very popular, and familiar, in the dressing room. Emil Forsberg’s restoration to the first XI this season was not insignificant. Not too happy with this either. “We stand for a certain way to play with RB,” he admitted. “The boys have that in the tank. They know how to do it and how it works. They’ve all done it before.”
The issue with Rose is not over the short term but the medium term. He felt that Leipzig were making adjustments to their model, splashing out a fee of almost €30m on David Raum and bringing back Timo Werner, an established star. Are they trying to secure the short term with Rose, or do they really believe they can grow and reach the next level? He will be realistic about his expectations, although the crowd that sang for him after Saturday’s win was a hint of affection that he has rarely received in Dortmund.
Leipzig are not standing still, of course, and if Tedesco’s reign has suddenly collapsed from the public eye, the club have been considering the move for some time. Oliver Mintzlaff, the club’s CEO, confirmed as much, not blaming much on Tedesco himself for the gradual pressure at the start of this season – five points from five Bundesliga games before they gave up against Shakhtar – but at acknowledge that the seeds were eventually planted. final weeks of the season.
The club is also moving to appoint a new sporting director, with ex-Gladbach man Max Eberl set to take a sabbatical, if Mintzlaff manages to find a deal for his counterpart Stephan Schippers (Eberl still has a contract with Borussia-Park). Eberl is intelligent and widely respected, and as Rose’s previous foil at Gladbach, he should work well.
This new infrastructure is too late for Tedesco, just as Dortmund’s shrewd recruitment this summer was something Rose would have loved if he had been able to enjoy it. He now has a new beginning in the east – but the first strong impression will not make him ignore how serious the pressures are, and how much he has to prove.
Despite Dortmund’s poor afternoon, they finished Saturday in a four-way tie at the summit with Bayern, Hoffenheim and Freiburg. Bayern were held to a third consecutive draw, with Stuttgart’s Serhou Guirassy grabbing a stoppage-time equalizer from the penalty spot at the Allianz Arena, leaving the unbeaten champions sitting on their worst home start in 12 year. It was the least the visitors deserved, although they were still hoping for an earlier strike that was disallowed by Guirassy after a VAR consultation, leaving sporting director Sven Mislintat lamenting Bayern at receive favorable calls. He received short shrift in this regard from teammate Hasan Salihamidžić, who also supported Julian Nagelsmann as he sought an effective rotation in a packed program.
Well done also to Mathys Tel, who is not only Bayern’s youngest ever goalscorer but now their youngest Bundesliga goalscorer at 17 years and 136 days after his confidence.
We only had one goal in total in two games on Sunday, but it was very impressive. Freiburg’s goalless draw with Gladbach – Daniel Farke’s enterprising visitors overshadowed the game – left them in second place leaving Union Berlin top of the pile after a stunning win over Cologne, and there should have been more than an early goal. Timo Hübers themselves to confirm theirs. excellence.
Schalke, who beat Bochum for their first Bundesliga win in 483 days, is less than happy but relieved. The second one is now left by Daniel Reis and they are still at the bottom of zero points.