Remember being back at school? There was always that kid who’d obviously been injected with some potent mix of human growth hormone and steroids to have become the rampant behemoth that would roam the corridors taking other peoples things and laughing as he smashed stuff? Other than stirring some repressed memories of a nervous time, there is a point to this tortured metaphor. Germany’s very own testosterone-addled giant is on the lookout for a shiny new manager and they’re going to steal one. The board of Bayern Munich have announced that Louis van Gaal will part company with the club at the end of the season sparking the traditional speculation about who Real Madrid-Lite will replace him with.
The thing is, there is only really one stand-out candidate. The man who’s team thrashed Bayern 3-1 in their own back yard. The man whose side is so dominant that they’re making the rest of the league like droopy-eyed, armless childen as pharmaceutical rep Charlie Sheen would put it. Jurgen Klopp has created something quite extraordinary at Borussia Dortmund. Not only have Dortmund established a 12 point lead with nine games left to play, they’ve done it with flair and panache. A truly exciting crop of youngsters have blended into an unstoppable juggernaut under Klopp. Mario Gotze has been one of the stories of the season but others like Nuri Sahin or Shinji Kagawa have been superb.
Enter the Uli Hoeness et al. Bayern Munich have a slight problem with not winning the Bundesliga. Anyone who witnessed van Gaal’s speech last season might just notice a small superiority complex. While Louis van Gaal needs no assistance in indulging in a little megalomania, Bayern are attuned to his brand of egotism and therefore will be disappointed not to get their man. Michael Corleone’s brand of disappointment.
While “Bigger Club Steals Smaller Club’s Manager” is not a headline to stop presses, there must be a palpable sense of frustration around Dortmund. Each of the big leagues has had its stand out team this season to challenge the big boys. In Spain Villarreal have been a joy to watch, ditto Napoli in Serie A. In England Spurs are engaged in a thrilling three-way race for the two remaining Champions League places with Manchester City and Chelsea. But only in Germany will the smaller club be crowned champions. Hardened by a title victory and aware of their ability, this is a Dortmund side capable of being rather special. Instead the rumours linking Kagawa and Gotze with moves to bigger clubs have already begun while van Gaal leaving means that Klopp will no doubt be offered a very tempting move to the Allianz-Arena.
It seems very unfair to refer to Dortmund as a smaller club than Bayern, because they are in no manner a small club. Dortmund have won titles both domestically and in Europe. But Klopp will know better than anyone that the side at Dortmund is unlikely to stay together for very long when the elite cabal come sniffing around. Given that his stock will never be higher and that at Bayern he would have access to resources and players that Dortmund simply can’t afford it looks like Klopp might be made an offer he can’t refuse.