I poured myself a glass of scotch as I saw the news on television, "Dortmund secure the Bundesliga title with six games still left to play" said one presenter, as I switched it to another channel, it was the same thing - "Klopp leads Der BvB to the title comfortably". I wouldn't lie, it was nice to hear that. Why wouldn't it be? The team had worked hard all season, and we had gotten great results. Amazing results to be honest. As I finished the bottle of scotch, my attention went back to the program, which now had two 'football analysts' trying to analyse my tactics. Huh? Listening to him talk about my tactics made me remember the day, the day that we sold Lewandowski off to Bayern...
The board didn't want to sell him, but it was common knowledge that there was no way he was going to stay at Dortmund after his deal expired at the end of this season. He wanted out. I remembering convincing the board to agree to sell him off. And then convincing myself that we could indeed cope without our Polish talisman and super scorer. That night, I came back home. Anxious to come up with a tactic that would get the most out of the players we had. We couldn't really play Aubameyang all the time since he was our lone striker. Yes he had pace, but I was certain he needed some time to develop a bit more. To become more refined. He would need at least a season more. But no, we couldn't wait, we had seen Bayern take the title the previous years, and I was NOT going to let that happen. I had to do something about it, and the only way to solve this dilemma was tactically. So I was off, off to the drawing board (or should I say, the book).
Our biggest problem was getting by without a striker, and to solve that problem we needed to come up with something that the footballing world had quite never seen before. The first tactic I constructed was one that we would use against teams that were weaker, or at home against evenly matched team. This tactic needed to be solid defensively while providing an outlet for offensive chances. We couldn't really use wide players now, so I decided to have a 3 man backline that was solid defensively, and two complete wingbacks who would make marauding runs and trouble our opponents constantly. I also decided to set the team up to follow a few rules - To play narrow, pass short, build attacks out of the defence and not just clear the ball, look for overlaps and play at a very high tempo. Constant hassling of opponents and tight marking were a must as well. This attack was built around the efficiency that Reus and Mkhitaryan would provide, with Fischer also subbing in sometimes for either of them.
Our second tactic was one with a five man defence - three central defenders and two fullbacks, and this would be the tactic we would employ against teams that were stronger or against evenly matched teams at away grounds. Again the ideologies that players had to maintain for this formation was the same - and I added just two instructions to the team, to drill crosses inside the box and to look for passes in open spaces. The tempo that the team was asked to maintain was much higher than the previous tactic too. This tactic would be contingent on how the midfield trio - usually of Sahin, Mkhitaryan and Gündoğan - would perform.
The third tactic was one that gave Aubameyang his playtime as the spearhead of the attack. This was a regular 4-2-3-1 that would be employed against evenly matched or weaker teams. The only added instructions for the team in this formation was to exploit the flanks and to have the backline positioned deep - in order to ensure that we don't get screwed if there is a botch up in midfield.
All these three instructions were exactly tailored to suit how I play - an attacking style of football. Something like Heavy Metal - something that hits you in an instant!
In retrospect, they were perhaps the finer tactics I have made over the years... Even though I admit I like the tactical aspect of the game, always have. And like it you must because if you don't then it is my belief that you are in the wrong job, I hate losing players.... First Götze, now Lewa, now the papers claim Hummels might follow the two to Allianz-Arena. I never admit it but it hurts. It hurts to see players that you nurture so lovingly leave for your rivals. For me, they are like my kids. And when this happens it is heart wrenching. That was the day I swore, that I would never ever again lose a player to a rival club. I swore to make Dortmund better than Bayern. Better than any club in the world. A club that every player would want to play for. It won't be easy, but nothing worth anything in life ever is.
As I felt my eyes become wet, I decided to chug down another glass of scotch as I turned my thoughts to the next game against Arsenal.