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Who Can Replace Jürgen Klopp?

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Sometimes an end of an era comes with an exit of a competition, an absolute collapse in fortunes, or in the best case scenario, one last success. Sometimes, however, it ends with a press conference, an admission of defeat and a glimpse of hope of a new start.

Jürgen Klopp and Dortmund have now found out what that feels like; having taken over the reins at the Ruhr club in 2008, Klopp had been (and will be, until the end of the season) the longest serving manager in the Bundesliga, and under his reign Dortmund transformed from a club in the doldrums to perennial title challengers. Few men have created such a top class team from such humble beginnings, at least in recent history, and few men have also taken their personal philosophy to the heights that Klopp’s counter-pressing has reached in the past few years, with a similar style to Dortmund’s pressing practised by clubs and international teams across the globe.

His record has been soured somewhat by this season; a torrid first half of the season saw Dortmund briefly in a relegation scrap, while the team have struggled at times since the winter break too, crashing out of the Champions League quite hopelessly to Juventus, being picked apart by better teams, and struggling against run of the mill opponents. For fans of Dortmund and the man himself, it’s painful to see a figure almost impossible to dislike leaving a club with whom he seemed such a perfect fit, but as fans begin to look to a future without Klopp, it’s perhaps becoming clear that such a drastic change may help the longer term prospects of the club. Who, though, should – indeed, who can – replace Jürgen Klopp?

Thomas Tuchel

Perhaps the most obvious choice to replace Jürgen Klopp is the man who carried on his legacy at Mainz. While Norwegian manager Jörn Andersen took over the reins at Mainz back in 2008, after Klopp joined Dortmund from die Nullfünfer, Tuchel replaced him just a year later in 2009, enjoying a very successful spell in charge until going on sabbatical in 2014, stating that he believed he’d taken the club as far as he could.

Not exactly like Klopp in terms of charisma, pundits have nonetheless been undeterred from calling Tuchel the “Mini Klopp” because of the club with whom he made his breakthrough and the style with which his teams usually play. Tuchel’s Mainz often played in a similar counter-pressing style to that of Klopp’s Dortmund, obviously without the star power of a Marco Reus, a Shinji Kagawa, a Mario Götze or a Robert Lewandowski, but with the similar ethos of a young, exciting team. Klopp blooded a number of younger players in his spell at Dortmund, and in a similar sense, faith from Tuchel gave the likes of Lewis Holtby, Andre Schürrle, Loris Karius and Johannes Geis their first meaningful taste of top level football, while despite the limited budget of Mainz, Tuchel managed to deliver European qualification to his fans twice in five years – when beforehand the club had been a so-called “elevator club”, with even Klopp himself getting relegated in 2006-2007.

On a final note, it’s quite clear that Dortmund’s squad will undergo a great deal of change in the coming months, with a lot of deadwood sitting in the ranks of the squad, former captain Sebastian Kehl retiring, a few players (such as current skipper Mats Hummels and recovering midfielder Ilkay Gündogan) considering their futures, and of course some of the other bigger names – including Ciro Immobile and Henrikh Mkhitaryan – allegedly being told they may leave the club in the summer. Next season’s team is likely to be almost unrecognisable from the team which took Klopp to the height of a Champions League final, but Thomas Tuchel has had the experience of rebuilding his team throughout his previous spell at Mainz, with key players (including Schürrle, Holtby and former star striker Adam Szalai) eventually not being missed too much.

All in all, Dortmund could do a lot worse than hand a contract to Tuchel.

Paulo Sousa

It’s hardly a surprise that Basel are running away with the league title in Switzerland; it’s a sight we’ve come to expect in the past few years – in fact, the last time that Basel didn’t win the Swiss title was in Klopp’s first season in Dortmund. However, success can be judged by performances in European competition, and Paulo Sousa’s first season in charge of Basel has in that sense been very successful, negotiating a Champions League group containing Real Madrid, Liverpool and Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets.

Sousa had originally failed to impress in the English second tier with QPR, Swansea and Leicester, but has since journeyed around Europe with spells in Hungary and Israel leading up to his current gig in Switzerland. As a former Dortmund player, too – playing in midfield in their Champions League winning team of 1997 – he’d probably be a popular choice with fans. A slight risk in that he’s yet to manage a team in a top league, Sousa has nonetheless shown all the skills to play football in a fashion the Dortmund faithful expect, while in his short spell at Basel thus far, he’s already replaced a stalwart of the team he inherited well– having lost Yann Sommer in the summer.

An interesting choice, if not the most striking, Sousa wouldn’t necessarily be a bad choice for the job; however, it’d perhaps be better if he gained some experience in a top European league before taking over a club at which he’ll be judged very, very quickly – at least in replacing Klopp.

Paul Lambert?

What?! Paul Lambert’s been linked with Dortmund?! The guy who did terribly at Aston Villa for quite a while?

Well, yes. He’s out of a job and has, in previous jobs, done a relatively good job – although I’m sure Michael Zorc and Hans-Joachim Watzke may opt to disregard his record at Colchester United if they’re actually considering Lambert for the hotseat. However, like Sousa, he’s a former Dortmund player who understands the club, has remained involved in the club since leaving – visiting games since and also revelling with fans at the Champions League final in 2013 – and could potentially do a good job in the right circumstances. Many people forget the role Lambert had in getting Norwich two consecutive promotions, and while his sides have been marked by dogged, defensive football at the top level thus far, there’s every chance that with better quality footballers at his disposal, he could command a better playing style.

It is, admittedly, probably more a rumour which has arisen because of his status as an out-of-contract manager. If Dortmund were to go down that route, why not appoint out-of-work, ex-Bundesliga champion, silver fox Armin Veh?

Verdict: Thomas Tuchel. No… Armin Veh. (on a serious note, definitely Thomas Tuchel).

Conor is a lifelong fan of Swindon Town. He hosts Dreierpack Podcast, a podcast about the Bundesliga, and writes about Borussia Mönchengladbach for the Bundesliga Fanatic.

Borussia Dortmund

Three talking points as Tottenham secured top spot with a Champions League win over Borussia Dortmund

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Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham ensured that they progressed to the Champions League knock-out stages as Group H winners after coming from behind to see off Borussia Dortmund in Germany on Tuesday night.

Dortmund – who were reliant on Real Madrid dropping points at Cypriot minnows APOEL Nicosia in the evening’s other fixture to stand any chance of progressing to the last 16 – took the early advantage when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang finished smartly from Andriy Yarmolenko’s clever flick.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side nearly crafted an equaliser before the break, only for both Christian Eriksen and Eric Dier to be denied in the space of a few minutes after superb work by ‘keeper Roman Burki.

But it didn’t take long for the visitors to draw level in the second-half, with Harry Kane afforded too much space on the edge of the box as he arrowed an effort into the corner with his first real chance.

Son Heung-min’s effort 15 minutes from time, a fine curling finish after tenacious work from Dele Alli, then sealed the turnaround and condemned the hosts to a shock early Champions League exit.

Tottenham bounce back after derby disappointment

After Saturday’s harrowing and disappointing defeat to old foes Arsenal, manager Mauricio Pochettino summed up Tuesday’s performance perfectly by labelling it as the ‘perfect reaction’.

It is hard to disagree with the Argentinian either, with his side displaying far more grit, determination and character at the Westfalenstadion to forget about their Premier League defeat and come from behind to beat a strong Borussia Dortmund outfit, securing their surprise status as Group H winners.

It seemed like they were suffering a North London derby hangover of sorts when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fired the hosts in front on the half-hour mark, but Spurs dug deep and showed that they are aiming to do more than just make up the numbers in the Champions League this campaign.

All of a sudden they burst into life after the break, with Harry Kane and Dele Alli – who were both anonymous at the Gunners – getting involved more and causing problems for a tiring home defence.

It was the former who levelled things up when Kane’s neat low drive found the back of the net, signalling his sixth Champions League goal in five appearances this season, whilst Alli was influential in assisting both goals, seeing off two Dortmund defenders before laying off to Son Heung-min for his winner.

It wasn’t a match that needed to be won, considering Tottenham had already secured their safe passage into the knock-out stages, but the manner of victory will no doubt send out a message across Europe.

Dortmund’s decline ends in Champions League exit

Yet, whilst Tottenham will be buoyant and nervously await the draw for the last 16 next month, Borussia Dortmund will be reflecting on where things went wrong after a dismal European outing this season.

Despite having a number of world-class individuals in their ranks – Aubameyang, Shinji Kagawa, the young Christian Pulisic, Mario Gotze and the injured Marco Reus are all part of the squad at the disposal of manager Peter Bosz – it’s been a stuttering season both in Europe and domestically too.

Their inability to beat Cypriot minnows APOEL Nicosia across two matches all-but put an end to any aspirations of knock-out football, and it seems that the Europa League will now be their next destination.

Add this to their woeful Bundesliga form of late, losing four of their last five matches and drawing the other one to leave them nine points adrift of the top of the table, and warning signs are now flashing.

It’s all a stark contrast to 2013, the year that the German side fell narrowly short in the Champions League final, and it’s clear for all to see that something is fundamentally not right just four years on.

The fact that Aubameyang – who was left out of the Dortmund squad for their Bundesliga defeat at Stuttgart last week after being sanctioned by Bosz – barely celebrated a sublime goal tells its own story of the club’s affairs, and it seems that the head coach could be walking on a very fine tightrope.

Pochettino’s conundrum after Aurier impresses

One thing that was clear from Pochettino’s team selection on Tuesday, other than the clear fact that he was looking for a quick response to the Arsenal defeat by selecting a strong side, was that summer signing Serge Aurier seems to be the preferred right-back option for the Champions League this season.

The £24 million man may have garnered a reputation for being a bit erratic but, contrary to some of his rash moments this season, he played with an element of maturity and care on Tuesday evening.

He certainly warranted his selection at Dortmund, always offering an outlet on the right-wing and constantly finding himself with a wealth of space to run into behind their captain Marcel Schmelzer.

Aurier’s delivery was generally accurate too, forcing the Dortmund defence into last-ditch blocks inside their own area with Kane lurking, whilst he kept things compact alongside Davinson Sanchez at the back.

It would no doubt have hurt the Ivorian to have been omitted from the side for the mightily impressive win over Real Madrid after playing in Tottenham’s opening three European matches, but on Tuesday’s showing he’s laid down a marker for rival Kieran Trippier ahead of the knock-out stages.

Considering the question marks hanging over the head of boss Pochettino about whether Kyle Walker could be replaced it’s certainly not a bad dilemma to have, and a bit of healthy competition between two viable wide options could prove key for Tottenham as the season goes on.

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Analysing Tottenham striker Harry Kane’s two-goal heroics against Borussia Dortmund

Rob Meech

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Harry Kane

Much had been written about Harry Kane’s barren August, in which he failed to score. However, the drought is well and truly over now September has arrived. Since finding the net for England during the international break, the 24-year-old has rediscovered his scoring boots in spectacular fashion.

His brace against Borussia Dortmund in Tottenham Hotspur’s opening Champions League Group H clash was as impressive as it was timely, providing his side with the perfect start to their European adventure and banishing the Wembley Stadium hoodoo.

It’s no secret that Tottenham are heavily reliant on Kane (perhaps overly so) to be their chief attacking threat, but he rarely lets them down. Manager Mauricio Pochettino will be relieved that his star man is back to his best.

The England striker had a hand in all three of their goals against Dortmund, setting up Son Heung-min for the first before netting either side of half-time to ensure Spurs sent home their supporters happy.

Both goals underlined Kane’s natural ability as a finisher, which has earned him the Premier League’s Golden Boot trophy in the previous two seasons. His first was a carbon copy of Son’s, cutting in from the left and unleashing a rasping drive that beat Roman Burki at his near post.

Perhaps the Dortmund keeper’s positioning was questionable, but such was the power and pinpoint accuracy of Kane’s strike that it would have taken some stopping wherever he had been stationed.

Although Dortmund looked vulnerable at the back, their attacking prowess had caused Spurs problems all night and a 2-1 lead seemed precarious. So Kane’s second of the night was mightily important because it effectively killed off the game.

After being put through by Cristian Eriksen, Kane still had work to do to create enough space to get his shot away. Once again, the accuracy was such that it left Burki with little chance of preventing it from nestling in the back of the net.

Kane could have completed his hat-trick before he was substituted to a rapturous reception from the Wembley faithful, but the damage had been done. Everyone knows Kane likes to shoot from all areas of the pitch, but opponents seem powerless to stop him.

His two goals from four efforts – as well as an assist – represented an excellent night’s work for a man who has grown in stature to become one of the most prolific strikers in Europe. Kane will remain fundamental to Spurs’ hopes of honours this season, both domestically and in Europe.

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“The Wembley curse is over” – Three things learnt from Tottenham 3-1 Borussia Dortmund

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Harry Kane

Tottenham may face a tough Champions League group including Real Madrid and APOEL alongside Borussia Dortmund, but they could not have gotten off to a better start than with a 3-1 home victory over the Germans.

Son Heung-Min raced clear in the opening minutes to give Mauricio Pochettino’s side the lead, but that lead was quickly pegged back after Andriy Yarmolenko looped an effort over Hugo Lloris and into the corner of the net.

That sparked Harry Kane to life, shrugging off two challenges before firing the ball into the back of the net for a third goal inside 15 minutes. After that the game calmed down as Kane’s second goal midway through the second half put the tie to bed.

A late sending off for Jan Vertonghen, who saw a second yellow for a flailing arm, marred things slightly but Spurs still got off to a dream start at Wembley on Wednesday night.

Here are three things that The Boot Room learnt from the game…

The Wembley curse is over

The tag of a Wembley curse has dogged Tottenham at the start of this season, not helped by defeat to Chelsea and a draw with Burnley, but there is no more emphatic way to put an end to such concerns than by wiping the floor with a difficult Champions League opponent.

Tottenham got off to a dream start through Son Heung-Min and even after conceding an equaliser they reacted well to rapidly re-take the lead. Such a win will give a huge confidence boost and Spurs fans will hope that it will remove any Wembley hoodoo too.

Dortmund continue to disappoint

Gone are the days when Borussia Dortmund were a force to be reckoned with in Europe under Jurgen Klopp, but their performances at Europe’s most elite level have been underwhelming for some time. At Wembley, they once again failed to deceive.

For all their possession and time on the ball in the Tottenham half, they failed to create many clear cut chances, with even their goal coming courtesy of an inspired strike from distance. Defensively they were poor too, with Tottenham scything the back four apart on the counter attack. Mauricio Pochettino will be confident of qualifying from a tough group on the back of that display.

Fernando Llorente offers an entirely different option

He may only have got a few minutes, but right from the off it was clear that the Spaniard’s introduction for Harry Kane would give Tottenham a different dimension in attack. Spurs immediately went for a more direct style with Llorente giving a real focal point in attack.

It’s likely that Llorente will have to wait until the Carabao Cup clash with Barnsley next week for his first start in Tottenham colours, but such aerial presence and power could come in handy against sides like his former team Swansea, who his new club face this weekend.

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