This season, Borussia Mönchengladbach has finally woken up.
To say they had been a sleeping giant would be an understatement; it would be fairer to say they had been in a coma.
Last season, they headed into the winter break with just 10 points from 17 matches. No team had previously managed to survive with such a poor record, but somehow Mönchengladbach turned it around.
Gerry Wittmann, founder of Bundesliga Fanatic, said: “I’d attribute their success to the hiring of Lucien Favre during the second half of last season, although the club made some moves during last season’s winter break that benefitted the club before Favre’s arrival, [such as] the signings of young defender Havard Nordtveit and veteran Martin Stranzl, along with veteran forward Mike Hanke.
“Favre is just an outstanding coach who was successful with both young players and veterans, getting everyone to play at the top of their game week in and week out. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have young stars such as Reus and ter Stegen, with Patrick Hermann coming along now too. Favre turned their awful defending around, and that in itself is huge.”
Founded in 1900, it wasn’t until the 1970s that Die Fohlen (or, The Foals) finally grew up. During that decade, they won five Bundesliga titles; two Uefa Cups; one German Cup; an Intercontinental Cup and finished runners-up in the European Cup.
However, their decline started steadily in the mid-eighties, and despite a German Cup win in 1995, they were relegated from the Bundesliga in 1999. Although they were promoted two seasons later, they were back down to 2.Bundesliga in 2007.
Now, under the guidance of Lucien Favre, and with a new wave of young stars led by Marco Reus, they are back – currently sitting 4th in the Bundesliga, and looking increasingly likely to qualify for the Champions League.
They may not win the title, but things certainly look a lot better than this time last year. And, this time next year, you could well be looking at genuine title contenders.