Thomas Tuchel announced that he wants Borussia Dortmund to be a serious challenger to the top four once again as he held his first news conference as their coach.
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A 3-1 loss to VfL Wolfsburg in the German Cup final will have persuaded even the most die-hard Borussia Dortmund supporter that the 2014/15 season was not a good one for the club, even though the Schwarzgelben rose from the foot of the Bundesliga to secure UEFA Europa League qualification in the second half of the campaign.
Jürgen Klopp, who brought them two league titles, is history. In Thomas Tuchel, presented to the media today, a new man bears the hopes of a fan base who provide Dortmund with the highest average attendance in Europe. "I am overjoyed to be BVB coach," said Tuchel, 41, who stepped down as 1. FSV Mainz 05 trainer last summer after five productive years. "When I learned of Dortmund's interest, it was clear that this was it."
During his sabbatical Tuchel became one of the most sought-after German coaches – he was even touted as a possible successor to Joachim Löw when it was speculated that the national team boss might quit after Germany’s 2014 FIFA World Cup triumph.
Tuchel's wish had always been "to coach a top side, a traditional club, a real challenger". He feels that has been granted, even if six teams finished above Dortmund this term, including FC Ausgburg and FC Schalke 04. "We want to be a serious challenger to the top four sides – Bayern München, VfL Wolfsburg, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen – but we have to come from behind."
For Tuchel, a successful squad must have "industry, humility, courage, openness and persistence. It is now my responsibility to create such an atmosphere." How will he do this? "On the training ground, as time spent there is "the most important".
The expectation is that the Bavarian will attempt to change Dortmund's approach to one of dominating games instead of relying on fast transitions between defence and attack. "Dortmund are synonymous with attacking football," Tuchel explained. "I am very comfortable with that. We will press the ball a lot and play lots of attacking football. This is something I enjoy and so do the fans."
This poses some interesting questions, such as how quickly can a team's DNA be altered? Is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Dortmund's 16-goal top Bundesliga scorer, compatible with such a system? Will Ciro Immobile get more playing time? Is there still room for midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan? And what about Shinji Kagawa? Which players outside the club fit the bill for Tuchel?
Talented 21-year old midfielder Johannes Geis, who played for Tuchel at Mainz, is being heavily linked with BVB as a possible replacement for İlkay Gündoğan. The German international seems certain to depart this summer after saying he is not going to extend his contract, which expires on 30 June 2016.
Clearly Tuchel would not answer these questions in any great detail at today's press conference, but it was a little surprising that he stated his intention not to make too many changes. "The team has a young average age," he said. "With transfers, less is more. It is my wish to work with most of the players who are here at the moment. There is no reason for me to judge who from this team has to go and be replaced by other players."
Indeed it is rumoured centre-back Mats Hummels, courted by several clubs, has announced he will stay after talking to Tuchel. Nevertheless, it promises to be an interesting summer at Strobelallee, with the new coach ready to make his mark.