Borussia Monchengladbach have gone from being the Borussia in the Bundesliga with momentum to the one struggling for confidence. ESPN’s German football commentator Derek Rae explains why the confirmed summer switch of coach Marco Rose to the other Borussia, Dortmund, has ushered in a host of problems.
It was little more than a month ago, but in the grand scheme of things it seems more like a year. My closing remarks from the world-feed commentary box after Gladbach’s impressive 4-2 win over Borussia Dortmund on Jan. 22 had to do with the changing landscape as regards these two clubs carrying the Borussia prefix.
The Fohlenelf had just overhauled BVB in the table and mercilessly booted them from the Champions League places, a key metric for a Dortmund side constructed to take part in Europe’s premier club competition every year. The force seemed to be firmly with the men from the Niederrhein region, while Dortmund resembled a collection of punchless individuals, overly dependent on the cold-blooded finishing of Erling Haaland and the creativity of Jadon Sancho.
As our cameras lingered on Rose, it was impossible not to focus on his future — and more to the point, his possible Dortmund future.
Since Lucien Favre’s departure from Dortmund in December, all indications had suggested Rose would take over the reins at one of the world’s most emotional clubs. It had become widely known that there was a clause in Rose’s contract allowing him to leave this summer, and the mounting speculation proved unsettling as whispers became louder.
Meanwhile, Max Eberl — Gladbach’s brilliant, long-serving head of sport — returned at the end of January from a month-long sabbatical in the mountains. This four-week break to recharge batteries was tied to his own recently-signed agreement with the club running through 2026. Once back in his office, Eberl immediately had to start putting out fires as Rose-to-Dortmund rumours engulfed scheduled media briefings at the Borussia Park. Bundesliga results were now going the wrong way, and the 2-1 derby defeat at home against FC Cologne was particularly sore.
Even as performances deteriorated, Eberl remained defiant. He was “99% certain” Rose would stay; then, the following week, “98% sure.” Rose clearly felt uncomfortable being asked about the thorny topic of Dortmund, and his body language and tone visibly and audibly changed, becoming more distant with reporters. It turns out that Eberl, as he told Sky Deutschland in a live interview on Sunday morning, learned of Rose’s decision after the Cologne game and before the 0-0 draw with VfL Wolfsburg. It was only on the back of that stalemate in the Autostadt that Gladbach formally announced they’d be losing their coach to Dortmund in the summer.
Reaction from Gladbach fans to Rose’s impending move has been merciless. They might not have the loudest voices among German football fans, but this is an area of the country that really cares, and they feel genuinely wronged by their coach.
Things got even worse on Saturday as the Foals were tripped up at home by second-bottom Mainz. The following day on Sport1’s weekly panel discussion, Doppelpass, 82% of poll respondents said they doubted Gladbach could continue with Rose through the end of the campaign. All parties insist the relationship can and will go on in a professional way, and Eberl himself believes someone seen as a great coach a few weeks ago remains a great coach today.
To his credit, Rose has been honest — in fact, he’s been way more candid than you’d expect from a football person tiptoeing his way through such a minefield. After the Mainz game he…