Borussia Mönchengladbach's coaching gamble paying off
BERLIN (AP) — Borussia Mönchengladbach's gamble on a new coach appears to be paying off.
Former Salzburg coach Marco Rose has led the team to the top of the Bundesliga even though his ideas are only just beginning to take hold.
Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl announced in April the club would not be continuing with the experienced Dieter Hecking as coach beyond the end of the season, saying he was looking for a change in direction after steady but unspectacular progress.
Eberl convinced the then-42-year-old Rose, a former Mainz defender, to take over. Rose had led Salzburg to the Austrian title and semifinals of the Europa League the season before, and he followed up by guiding it to another league title last season.
Last week, Rose celebrated his 100th day in charge at Gladbach. They could hardly have gone any better.
"Leading the standings is a nice snapshot in time that we're very happy about. The 16 points from the first seven games are far more important, however," Eberl said. "We decided before the season to change our way of playing. Every point at the beginning of this new way does us good."
Eberl acknowledged that the team's performances were "not yet consistently very good," but pointed to the latest win, a 5-1 rout of Augsburg, as a step in the right direction.
It was Gladbach's fourth straight league win, but the first game under Rose in which the team really excelled.
"There was a lot there in the type of soccer we want to see," Eberl said. "The team now knows that the coach and his staff's ideas work."
Hecking had placed his faith in possession-based soccer, while Rose favors a fast-paced high-pressure game, switching quickly from defense to attack. It hadn't worked until Augsburg came along, even if the results had been going Gladbach's way.
"I know how to look at things objectively. We still have a lot, a lot of work ahead of us," Rose said.
The win - and the nature of the performance - led to an impromptu party despite teeming rain at Borussia-Park, where home supporters sang somewhat prematurely that Gladbach would be Bundesliga champions.
"If I were a fan I'd also grab a beer. Or five of them - one for each goal," Gladbach defender Tony Jantschke joked.
World Cup winner Christoph Kramer was happy with his team's position in the league.
"I've been here a long time and I've never been at the top of the Bundesliga," the Gladbach midfielder said. "I'll be looking at the standings more often now."
The club's new found optimism will be put to the test on Saturday at Borussia Dortmund, which is desperate for a win after falling four points off the pace after three straight 2-2 draws.
The visitors will be confronted by two familiar faces in Dortmund coach Lucien Favre and captain Marco Reus. Both were at Gladbach when it was last leading the Bundesliga, on Aug. 26, 2011.