Borussia Mönchengladbach – a club that was struggling at the bottom of the Bundesliga table not even a year ago – is making waves this season. Yet this is nothing new for the club based in the city of Monchengladbach in the North-Rhine Westphalia. After the formation of the Bundesliga, Monchenglach had to struggle to enter the top tier of German football. However, once they were there, they did well and even challenged for titles with powerhouse Bayern. Impressively, they became the first Bundesliga club ever to successfully defend their title in 1971.
Die Fohlen, as they are known, won the German Cup and under coach Hennes Weisweiler, the team won three back-to-back Bundesliga titles in the 70’s. They even came close to continental domination but eventually lost out to Liverpool in the European Cup final. Their downfall began in the 80’s and continued throughout the 90’s as they were struggling in the bottom half of the Bundesliga table. At one point, they were even relegated to the 2.Bundesliga and remained there for a couple of seasons. As a result of this, Dutch manager Dick Advocaat was recruited in 2004 on the back of his success at the Euros with the Dutch national team that same year. However, things did not go as planned and he left the club in 2005. Jupp Heynckes, a club legend and the current coach of Bayern Munich subsequently took over, but they were relegated again. Still, they managed to claw their way back into the Bundesliga the following year.
Lucien Favre was appointed manager last season just as they were about to go down again. Under his stewardship, they avoided relegation. This season, Favre is working wonders with the team, presently 4th in the table. They were second just a few weeks ago and were giving Bayern a run for their money. With 7 games remaining in the season, a Champions League spot is very much a possibility.
Much of this revival has to be attributed to Favre who had previously coached Hertha Berlin before having no team to manage for two years. One would have to believe that he has worked his magic with the squad because barely £2 million was spent in the summer. He implemented the quick, dynamic style of play that won him the Swiss league twice with FC Zurich. Germany saw a sign of what was to come when Favre’s side defeated Bayern 1-0 at the Allianz Arena on the opening day of this season. The return leg even saw the Fohlen win it 3-1 in scintillating style. A Win against Schalke followed by good games against BvB made many football fans stand up and take notice.
Yet Favre is not the only person deserving of praise. Twenty-two year old midfielder Marco Reus has been a revelation this season. He has been heavily involved in the team’s build-up play and the fact that Dortmund have triggered his buy-out clause of 18 million in order to have him within their ranks at the end of the season just goes to show his worth. Another notable player is teenage goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen. Once Favre took the reigns at the club, this young keeper, who was previously playing for the B team of Monchengladbach, caught his eye. Poor form of then first-choice keeper Logan Bailly gave the youngster a deserved chance. The club fans also had a key say as they encouraged their new manager to give the youngster a run in the team. The Gladbach youth product has drawn comparisons to Manuel Neuer and it probably won’t be long before he gets his chance in the German national team. Central midfielder Roman Neustadter and Brazilian centre- half Dante have also attracted the attention of scouts across Europe as they have both been integral to the team’s scintillating season. Granted, Die Fohlen last won the league way back in 1977 but the future is definitely looking bright.