Both Bayern and the Bundesliga need to clip Klopp’s wings and keep him at Dortmund

By All Blue Daze. Of course it's not Bayern Munich's fault. And it is harsh to criticise a club for simply being too good for their opponents. Surely it’s up to the rest of the league to get their acts in order and close the quality gap. Unfortunately, that’s not really what’s happening in the Bundesliga, and the Bavarian club is rapidly turning the league into a sort of non-competition akin to Red Bull's domination of Formula One last year. Yes, you have to admire the excellence of the dominant team but, competitive it ain't!

In the longer term, such a situation cannot really be much help for Bayern either. Brought up on a staple diet of rolling teams over week after week, building a run of over 50 games undefeated and winning the league by a street, realistically with only ‘fresh air’ in second place, is not the sort of case-hardening programme designed to prepare teams for the more strenuous tasks of European competition. Despite the motivational abilities of Guardiola, Bayern may eventually get metaphorically ‘fat and lazy’ and if that happens their European prominence will inevitably crumble as hungrier teams pass them by. So, what is the answer? Well, it may be very simple and already in place. The question however, is will it stay there?

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Bayern Munich have gone from strength to strength since Pep Guardiola joined last summer

It’s simply this. Every great champion had their rivals – the opponents that were always there to challenge and drive them on to greater efforts and excellence. Muhammed Ali had Joe Frazier. Nicki Lauda had James Hunt. Barcelona have Real Madrid, and vice-versa. Even Manchester United had Liverpool, then Arsenal, then Chelsea, then Arsenal again, then Chelsea again. The point is that without such a rival, someone to keep them honest and focused on success and development, decay may set in. Yes, I know that Bayern lost their 50-odd game unbeaten run to little-known Augsburg a few days ago, but would that really have happened if the Bavarians had been locked in a close-run title race? No, I don’t think so either.

Saturday’s Bundesliga game, where the Borussia Dortmund club travelled to the Allianz and delivered a sound 0-3 beating however, showed that even now, with the Bundesliga resembling a procession, there’s life in Borussia Dortmund and their charismatic manager, Jurgen Klopp.

‘Die Schwarzgelben’ have been the only true rivals to Bayern over recent seasons, and if the Bavarians are to keep up their standards, and the Bundesliga is to be something other than an entirely predictable procession, a strong, competitive Dortmund with Klopp at the helm is probably the best solution. It is therefore vital for both Bayern and the Bundesliga to ensure that Klopp stays with the club.

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Jurgen Klopp has won two Bundesliga titles at Borussia Dortmund and has reached a Champions League final with the German club

Replacing Thomas Doll, Klopp joined Dortmund from Mainz in 2008, after a disappointing season had seen the Westphalian club finish in the lower half of the Bundesliga. In the intervening years however, Klopp guided them to successive top six finishes and back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012. He did also of course take them to the Champions League final at Wembley last year, where they eventually lost out to Bayern after taking the lead. Such success however, has potential drawbacks for the club. Envious, often wealthier clubs can offer a manager the chance of fame, fortune and success, rather than a seemingly endless struggle to get out from under the giant shadow cast by Guardiola’s European champions.

Rumours have circulated that both Manchester United and Arsenal have considered the German as a potential manager. The north London club particularly are thought to consider his approach to match nicely with that of current manager Arsene Wenger, and should the Frenchman decide to call it a day and move upstairs, Klopp would inevitably be one of the names on a particularly short, shortlist of possible successors. Whilst an ambition to move on would hardly be surprising, it would inevitably be a backward step for the German league. Klopp signed a two-year deal in October 2013, but the worth of such things would be questionable if an opportunity to manage one of Europe’s top clubs was on offer, and he decided that challenging Bayern was a task of Sisyphean proportions. Klopp however, isn’t characterized as a quitter and there’s little sign that he wants to move away from Dortmund.

Tottenham assistant manager and former Dortmund player Stefan Freund certainly agrees that Klopp needs to stay at the club to keep the German league alive. Speaking to the BBC World Service, the former Germany international declared that although the Bavarians have secured the league by a 20-point margin, Klopp can bring Dortmund back into contention. “With him the team grew into the best team in Germany. I think he can do the same again. Jurgen Klopp is the most important person at Borussia Dortmund,” said Freund who had spent five years with the club during the mid to late nineties. “They had been involved in the relegation zone, or in mid-table, until he arrived. I think he can do the same again with young players like striker Marvin Ducksch and left-back Erik Durm. They have options and good players coming through.”

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Robert Lewandowski (centre) will leave the club in the summer to join Bayern Munich on a five year deal

The issue of bringing players through however is a particularly sore point for Dortmund’s Yellow Wall fans. Before last season’s Champions League final,’Die Schwarzgelben’ were compelled to sell the Germany attacking midfielder Mario Gotze to the Bavarian club when a £31.5million bid was made and the player declared his wish to move to the Allianz. The move created the crazy scenario of star player Gotze not being selected for one of the most important games in Dortmund’s history, as he watched his potential new employers defeat his current ones from a seat in the stands. The irritation was further compounded in January when, after many months of rumours following a refusal to sign a new contract, Polish striker Robert Lewandowski signed a pre-contract to also move to the Allianz when his contract expires this summer. In the same BBC interview, Freund said that”Bayern are the strongest team – financially too – and everyone knows that. So that’s why Gotze and Lewandowski have gone – and this will happen again.”

Unfortunately for Dortmund, it’s not just Bayern that target their players, current midfielders Reus and Gundogan have been linked with possible moves to Manchester United and the financial situation at the Westfalenstadion means the club will always be prey to such approaches. It must seem to some like a fairly pointless task if all you are doing, each time a young player is brought through and developed, is to then sell him to your biggest rivals, strengthen them and keep the quality gap between you ever-widening.

But ex-Dortmund star Freund, 44, does not think closing the gap is out of the question – if the club hang on to Klopp. Nothing breeds such success, like success. Klopp built a team that took successive Bundesliga titles a couple of years ago, and drove Bayern on to improve their squad. For both Bayern’s sake, and that of the Bundesliga as a competition, there must be the hope that Klopp has the fight in him to stay with Dortmund, and do it all again.

With Barcelona, Man Utd and Spurs all linked with the German coach, where will Klopp be next season?

Read more from All Blue Daze here!

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