Lewis Ambrose opines on the reception of the dismissal of Thomas Tuchel as head coach of Borussia Dortmund.
It feels like a lot of people, possibly myself included, have been painted as thinking Thomas Tuchel is a saint and Hans-Joachim Watzke is evil and, personally, I just want to distance myself from that.
First of all I am a big fan of Aki Watzke, he’s done a lot of amazing work and I feel he gets a rough ride, that’s why I’ve continuously defended him every time people get upset about yet another quote. He’s good at his job, he’s very successful, and he’s one of us.
This situation, regardless of your stance, has been dealt with horribly, though. Playing the Monaco game in the first place, the timing and content of that pre-Hoffenheim interview, the constant vague allusions, the very obviously planned articles with ‘leaked’ information or ‘anonymous quotes’.
Most of all the idea that Tuchel, also a victim of an assassination attempt, calculatedly used said attack to strengthen his position at the club and that his response isn’t considered genuine.
I struggle with the repetition that sporting success isn’t important to the club. In that interview, Watzke said coming in 4th in the Bundesliga wasn’t enough to reach our goals.
We’ve heard allegations that essentially paint Tuchel as inhumane and intolerable, but in that case why not sack him a month, two months, three months sooner, when tension was already clearly at a boiling point?
Why not appoint Daniel Farke until the end of the season, or anyone the players would really feel at home under? Given they were treated so badly. Because sporting success matters to the club. Finishing 3rd mattered, winning the cup mattered.
If (when) there were clear issues between Tuchel and players, it is ultimately right that he leaves, no matter how good he is. That doesn’t mean this was handled well at all.
Moreover, I love Marcel Schmelzer. I also love Nuri Sahin. Two players I have so much time for, they’ve been brilliant for the club. Since his return, Sahin’s brilliant 2014 was vital for the team, Schmelzer has been a long-time stalwart.
I massively object, though, to a TV interview indirectly saying another player shouldn’t play. We are constantly told the squad has unbelievable togetherness but to say Sahin had to play instead of Ginter is massively disrespectful to the latter.
I also struggle with the information plenty of us have heard, either privately or publicly, when it all comes from one direction: Watzke and/or the club. Even the players who were ‘against’ Tuchel.
They are hardly an unbiased source in this, and it’s the same reason conclusions can’t be drawn from Watzke’s open letter. The club, and Aki, aren’t going to express anything but why they’re right, why they’re justified. They aren’t going to publicly cast more doubt on their decision or inspire more sympathy for Tuchel – imagine how ridiculous and stupid that would be.
These things appear to have been accepted as gospel rather than seen with a critical eye and taken with a pinch of salt. Which, for the record, I think we should do with everything, whether it be pro-Watzke or pro-Tuchel or anti-anything.
Even when Tuchel left it was considered telling that no players sent tweets about him. We have no idea what they’d do with his personal phone number or whether they were reluctant to make a public statement – they’d only have something to lose by doing so – yet people interpreted nothing happening as more evidence against him.
With the environment at the club obviously turbulent, it was the right thing for Tuchel to leave. Whether or not it’s right that some players (as it’s clear he was liked by the French contingent, Christian Pulisic, Roman Bürki) have much more sway than others is another discussion and not one I care for very much.
Even as I write this, people are on Twitter accusing Tuchel of leaking information (which he may well have!) and abusing him for it.
What about information leaked to Freddie Röckenhaus? Information quite clearly leaked by someone high up at the club and anonymous player quotes while the season was ongoing and performances and results could have been harmed?
Across the board, by people on both sides, the same level of scrutiny is not being applied to Watzke and Tuchel. It’s ok for one to speak his mind, not the other. It’s ok for one to leak, not the other. The fault rests massively on both sides.
Whether or not some fans are better because they’re privileged to greater or more direct sources of information is a ludicrous thing to ever imply and I hope we don’t ever see that again. People don’t choose how close to the club they are.
As a fan from abroad I’m always actually a little conscious people may doubt how or why I’m a Dortmund fan. Nonetheless, from sharing stuff on Twitter to standing on the Südtribüne, and even at a few away games, nobody has been anything but warm and welcoming, treating me like any other fan. Until now.
‘You don’t know what I know because fans like me are closer to the club’ is the tone, certainly on the receiving end (not that I was ever even the target of such a reply but I absolutely felt included in that), and I think that’s the saddest thing to come of all this.
People support clubs for different reasons but we can all agree that Dortmund means a lot to us all and that’s the only thing that matters, or at least it should be.
For better or worse, Thomas Tuchel is gone now. I think Lucien Favre, should he come in, is a really good coach. The change of direction (tactically) is an on-field concern but it should be interesting and I hope he’s brilliant. Let’s not compare what he is or isn’t to previous coaches.
Either way, I hope people disembark their high horses now. Tuchel is gone whether it’s right or not. We won’t always agree on what’s best but we all want the club to be as special, and successful, as possible. Surely that’s the most important thing?