And then there were... the youngsters, a primary rock and two almost forgotten ones
Not only the regulars become champion, but also the ones standing aside as alternatives that get to play only seldom or even not at all. At the end of our series about the heroes of the championship winning season 2010/11 it is time to honour those members of the squad of champions that usually don't get to be in the limelight. Because they also made an important contribution to get the starters to play at their best. Even if they were only sparring partners, putting on the pressure and submitting to their role without causing trouble and taking care of a good climate within the squad. They are part of this fantastic team as well, which makes them all heroes in black'n'yellow.
Since Borussia was the youngest team ever to win a Deutsche Meisterschaft it might sound odd to talk about youngsters without meaning the regular starters. But here they are, the BVB-talents that get to train with the pros but mostly play in the U23 reserve and fill the bench of the pros if these run out of experienced alternatives for their position.
Third goalkeeper at Borussia is Johannes Focher (aged 21). He got closest to an appearance in the first team when Weidenfeller was missing in Munich. But as Mitch Langerak did a fabulous job, Focher only got to watch this important win from a front row perspective. Focher had a mixed season at the U23 showing some weaknesses at handling high crosses but also saving some points for the BVB reserve team.
The 4th central defender of the Borussia squad, Lasse Sobiech (20) did not get to play a single minute as well. But this was hardly a surprise if you consider the competition on his position. He played a solid season in the reserve though and won 4 caps in the German U21. Sobiech caught the eye of Bundesliga relegates St.Pauli and joined them on loan for a year. In the first two matches of Bundesliga 2 he played the full 90 minutes and he had a pretty good start. He was even hailed by reporters as one of Bundesliga 2´s biggest talents, because of his physique and his solid game. Let's hope he will keep it up to become a real alternative for Jürgen Klopp on his return in case one of our central defenders leaves Borussia.
Defensive-allrounder Marc Hornschuh (20) got to see some Bundesliga matches from bench perspective as well. In the reserve he could prove his versatility. He played central defender, central defensive midfield as well as on the wings. He won some international experience in 5 matches for the German U20 and U21 selections. If he does not get to play next season as well and Julian Koch, who plays the same positions, will return fit fom his severe injury, BVB should think about loaning Hornschuh out in the winter.
Spearhead Daniel Ginczek (20) started strong into the Regionalliga (4th division) season and scored 10 goals in the first 13 matches. Then he suffered a ligament injury and was out for months. He returned fit to score two more but did not get to play a minute in Bundesliga. But his performances attracted some 2nd Bundesliga teams and he finally chose to join the grey mice of Bochum on loan. In the first match of the season he was included after 70 minutes but could not prevent the loss, but in the 2nd match he got to play half an hour and scored the decisive goal. Despite his good start it will not be easy for Ginczek to find his way into the BVB starting 11 after his return, as Borussia under Klopp plays only one real striker and on that position some experience seems necessary. Hopefully Ginczek can collect some of that experience in Bochum.
Other than his colleagues from the 2nd row Marco Stiepermann could make a contribution to the championship on the pitch. He was included in four matches mostly close to the end. He did not score his 2nd Bundesliga goal but can still feel like a full member of the championship winning squad. In Regionalliga his performances varied from outstanding to sluggish. He managed to score 5 times and provided 4 assists. Despite his height of 1.90m he mostly played on the wing where he could profit most of his speed. In three matches for the German U20 he scored once. For the new season he joined his old mentor from the BVB U19, Peter Hyballa at Aachen. He started in the first two matches but has not scored yet.
Damien Le Tallec (21) had already fought his way onto the first team in season 09/10, before he injured his shoulder at Osnabrück, which set him back for months. Last season he did not manage to really catch Jürgen Klopp’s eye again. Two late inclusions in the Europa League and one in the lost cup match at Offenbach can’t be enough for his ambitions. In the reserve team he could only convince partly as well. In the middle of the season he seemed to lack motivation and only on the home stretch of the season the versatile striker was able to show his qualities again. He scored 11 times. In summer his wish to join another team on loan, to collect match practice, became public. So far no other club showed a public interest to sign him though.
The primary rock
When Florian Kringe joined the BVB U15 from Sportfreunde Siegen, he for sure dreamt about winning the championship with Borussia. Now he has achieved that, but the last season was nothing like little Florian‘s dreams. Where the arrival of Jürgen Klopp marked a change for the better and ultimately the start oft he route to greatness for the club, it meant a cut to the negative for Florian Kringe.Kringe who had been an asset to Borussia’s team for years, lost his place in the starting line-up and decided to join Hertha BSC on loan with a heavy heart. There he carried the hopes in the fight against relegation, but in his first match he broke his foot and was out for half a year. After playing a couple of matches he broke his foot again at the same spot. Hertha was relegated and his contract was not extended.
Now Kringe was back at home but with a coach that did not rely on him and injured so he could not catch the attention of other clubs. In fact he was that heavily injured, he could only collect some match practice at the reserve team at the end of the season. At the last match of the season Jürgen Klopp made a big gesture by placing Kringe on the bench to show that he was still part of the team. Still this title has at best a bitter-sweet taste for Kringe. After he went through hard times with the club, he could not contribute to the rise from the ashes. Still Florian Kringe is and will always remain a hero in black’n’yellow. Someone who always, even after the worst of matches runs to the stands to greet the fans, even though he has received some beer showers in the past, someone who is always fighting on the pitch and even after the most absurd of misses tries again and again until he finally scores the wonder goal will never be forgotten in and around Dortmund. The status Florian Kringe has with the Dortmund supporters was documented by the beautiful musical monument, the punk-rock band Dörpms made for him on the “Dauerkarte” sampler. The song “der Fette mit der 6“ (the fat one with the 6) is about the strengths and weaknesses of Kringe which make him a typical Borussia Dortmund player. A translation of the chorus: “We don’t have Ronaldinho, we don’t need a Becks (Beckham), we have Florian Kringe, the fat one with the 6”.
Considering his still doubtful state of health and fitness it looks at the moment as if the primary rock will make another try at Borussia next season. Because of his legendary versatility he could become a valuable alternative for Jürgen Klopp. One can only hope, that he will have some more great moments in black’n’yellow.
The two championship phantoms
Yes they were also part of the squad in the championship winning season so they should not remain unmentioned: Tamas Hajnal and Dimtar Rangelov. Both players said goodbye to Borussia during the season and due to the performances of the team they weren’t missed all that much.
Dimitar Rangelov was even fielded last season, if only for 14 minutes in the opening loss against Vizekusen™ and and a few more at the distant Agdam. When he realised that there was no room for him in the starting line-up he joined Maccabi Tel Aviv. After he scored only twice in 22 games the Israelis refused to extend the loan or even sign him fully. First he announced boastfully to make his way into Borussia’s team, then he was drawn back to Cottbus. He had a good start there with one goal and one assist in the first two matches. During his stay at Dortmund he never made a big impression so hopefully he is off for the better in his old home.
Tamas Hajnal is another case of hardship of the Klopp era. He joined the BVB for a small fixed fee after being brilliant at Karlsruhe just before Jürgen Klopp was signed. After Klopp changed his preferred system to make it suitable for Hajnal, he became the leader of our offensive midfield and had by far the most assists in the team after his first season. The following season he started less effective, then tore a ligament in his ankle and was out for months.
When he returned his starter status was history, because Klopp had changed the system again. That was for the benefit of the whole team without a doubt, but it did not suit Hajnals strengths at all. He is not quick enough to play in the offensive three-man-line and on the double-six his weaker defensive play becomes a big factor, even more so playing alongside Nuri Sahin, who had become untouchable in the meantime. In the championship winning season he did not get to play at all and moved to Stuttgart in winter. There he immediately became a regular starter and a major factor in the avoided relegation with three goals and four assists. So the VfB bought him for keeps. With Tamas Hajnal a player leaves Borussia that has made no major mistakes and even performed well, as long as the style of play suited him.
These examples show that even during the maybe best BVB season of all times not everything went perfect for all of the players. Only 11 get to be on the pitch at the start of a game and even if all three possible substitutions are made, more members of the squad stay out on bench or even tribune than get to play. But also the players that did get to play seldom or even not at all contributed to this wonderful season we were allowed to witness. That alone makes them heroes in black’n’yellow. Some of them might leave their mark in Borussia’s future, for others their time in Dortmund is over already. But when they look back on their careers one day, they all can say: ”Yes, I was there when a team exceeded its limitations, amazed the whole league and ecstasized its fans. I was part of the fantastic Borussia 2010/11.”
That ends our little series on the champions and to be honest it ends just in time. Because where there was some sadness that even this wonderful season had to end at some point, now the anticipation of the upcoming season is growing strong. We can be glad to be able to join the heroes in black’n’yellow a little further on their route.