Even though Jürgen Klopp still has a contract through 2018, Borussia Dortmund announced today that their star coach will be leaving the club at the end of this season.
To say that Borussia Dortmund has not had a great season in 2014-15 is a huge understatement. After winning two Bundesliga titles in a row in 2011 and 2012, along with a DFB Pokal, and an appearance in the Champions League final in 2013, the club looked like they were going to be a perennial major competitor to German giants Bayern Munich, only to crash spectacularly this season. The unusual rash of injuries surely had a significant factor in the decline, but Klopp has been taking a fair amount of criticism from all sides.
Poor form in 2014-15
Having sat at the bottom of the table at times, the club now finds itself in tenth place in the domestic league, with the chances of qualifying for the Europa League looking more and more unlikely. BVB is trailing Augsburg, who sit in the last EL spot in sixth, by six points, with only six games left to play. The only other way of salvaging participation in the lucrative continental competition is to win the DFB Pokal, but Bayern Munich are a major hurdle on that path, who will host Dortmund at the Allianz Arena in the semifinals.
Why he's leaving
At a hastily scheduled press conference this afternoon (local time), Hans Joachim Watzke announced, in a somber mood, that the coach will be getting released from his current contract, which still runs through the summer of 2018, at the end of this season.
According to Klopp himself, the current situation is not the reason he is leaving. He acknowledged the poor performance of the club so far, but stressed that neither that, nor any alleged rifts with management or players that had been reported in the media had any bearing on his decision. He said he periodically evaluated whether he felt he was still the best coach for the job, and came to the conclusion in the last few days that he no longer was.
Who will take over at BVB?
So, who will succeed Klopp at Dortmund, where he has been in charge since 2008? BVB's media director preempted any questions on that subject, saying that the club would not be answering any questions on that subject, but, of course, the media has already chosen the most likely candidate: Thomas Tuchel.
The former Mainz coach, who incidentally took over that job when Klopp moved to Dortmund, is currently on sabbatical, taking a year off after leaving Mainz 05. Tuchel had been in negotiations with Hamburger SV until recently, when talks broke down, and HSV announced that former Bayern Munich player and coach Bruno Labbadia would take over. Some reports say that Dortmund's coaching situation was the reason why Tuchel backed out of a deal with the embattled northern club.
This could be fun
Stay tuned for what might turn out to be the worst kept secret, as Dortmund try to focus on the last six games of the Bundesliga, and trying to salvage a lost season. When BVB will announce the successor is anyone's guess. Of course, the English football media will explode with this news, as Klopp has been rumored for many coaching positions in the EPL, most recently as a replacement for the embattled Manuel Pellegrini at Manchester City.