Caretaker André Schubert has been confirmed as Mönchengladbach's new coach, his minor adjustments having brought major rewards according to UEFA.com's Steffen Potter.
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Six straight Bundesliga wins followed by a goalless draw at home to Ingolstadt steered Mönchengladbach from the foot of the table to sixth place, and today earned caretaker coach André Schubert a contract until summer 2017. The man described recently in the Italian press as a "magician" could not prevent a UEFA Champions League exit in a tough Group D, but has nonetheless given Gladbach some belief since replacing Lucien Favre.
So how did the 44-year-old former Gladbach reserve-team coach – who had previously underwhelmed as head coach in the second division with Paderborn and St. Pauli – manage such a turnaround?
First, it needs saying that there was always quality within the Mönchengladbach squad. They finished third last term, sporting director Max Eberl and boss Favre having become accustomed to withstanding the painful losses of the likes of Marco Reus and Marc-André ter Stegen on a reasonably modest budget.
However, Eberl had warned in the summer: "There are three or four players and if any of them are missing, we will have problems." An early-season injury crisis proved him right, Favre compelled to rely on inexperienced central defenders. The return of some of those players since the Swiss trainer's departure has helped Schubert's cause, with gossip suggesting that Favre's weariness at having to constantly rebuild lay behind his September resignation.
Indeed, the changes Schubert has made since taking over are not huge ones. Gladbach still play a reasonably standard 4-4-2 system with two holding midfielders, yet there is a catch. "Under Schubert, we press a lot earlier and are more attacking – we play a much higher line now," midfielder Granit Xhaka told UEFA.com in late September, the smile on his face indicating this more aggressive approach suited him.
If Favre's safety-first style benefited his clubs in the past, Schubert has different ideas, telling UEFA.com: "The players have quality – we know that. We have tried to give them back their confidence and the joy of playing football."
Team changes have been minimal. On-loan Chelsea youngster Andreas Christensen is being paired with more experienced colleagues in central defence, while summer signing Lars Stindl has flourished since being pushed a little further forward than the holding role he occupied under Favre.
In midfield, Schubert is teaming up talented 19-year-old Mahmoud Dahoud with captain Xhaka. Minor adjustments, yet sometimes all it takes is the turn of a few screws to fix the motor. The UEFA Champions League dream is over, but a switch to the UEFA Europa League is a distinct possibility.