Qualifying from a UEFA Champions League group containing Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk but sitting just seventh in the Bundesliga. It's been an indifferent season so far for Marco Rose and his Borussia Mönchengladbach side.
In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, the German tactician looks ahead to his side's Friday night blockbuster of a fixture against league leaders Bayern Munich - a fixture they won last season - as well as the arrival of American talent Joe Scally and much more...
bundesliga.com: Into the last 16 of the Champions League and seventh place in the Bundesliga, how do you sum up the season so far?
Marco Rose: "We don't need to talk about the Champions League, it's a big success and we're still in the cup. We'd have liked a few more points in the Bundesliga and to be higher up the league, for sure. We know though that we've had games where our problems were self-inflicted, we gifted some points. We're also in a situation which I can assess very well. We had seven or eight weeks in a row with games midweek, even more for the national team players. That has been extreme. A team like ours, who has the pressure of the Champions League every year, we go through phases which we have to struggle through."
Watch: Gladbach under the tactical microscope!
bundesliga.com: To what extent are the number of draws you have had in the Bundesliga spoiling the overall picture?
Rose: "We had a time where we did more right than wrong in most games, at least over a long period. We conceded some stupid goals, didn't necessarily have the luck in the first half of the season that you can have. When you're at the top like we were last year in the first half of the season with 35 points we had that luck. We have to take action, you earn this luck. We have been too careless in defence at times, too passive. We have gifted opponents opportunities to score. We conceded like this relatively frequently and that has cost us points."
bundesliga.com: After one and a half years at Gladbach how much do you now see of yourself in the team and what do you still want to improve?
Rose: "I don't talk about 'Marco Rose Football', we have worked on a few things together, that has led to us being able to play in the Champions League this year. We play very good football. We've got a lot of good players. Unfortunately, we're playing without fans, the feedback on what you're doing is missing but we still have room for improvement in a lot of areas. If you look at some of the statistics as to what is important for us, where we are currently then we have a lot of room for improvement and we're working on that daily."
bundesliga.com: Christoph Kramer said that Borussia were always a good counter-attacking team and that a high-pressing game has developed under you, have you changed anything about the style of play?
Rose: "We've taken a lot of things that the team always did well in previous years. We've also added our own ideas. We have a very good positional game, transition after winning the ball was always important but now we want to prioritise that more. We've had some big successes, the lads are enjoying it, at least that's the impression you get. It's great to see, for example, Chris Kramer with his experience and what he has been through is still prepared to take new things on board, and to see how he has developed in certain areas in the last year and a half."
Rose: "To catch Breel you have to be strong - it shows that I'm in good shape! What does that show? I think Breel would've liked to have given everyone on the bench a hug, we work very well together as a team. The team has shown their great character from day one. That's something I knew they had before I came here because I had it confirmed to me. They're organised, the lads enjoy being with each other, they're there for each other. We, as a coaching team, try to do our bit to contribute to that and keep it going and Breel just had that feeling. You don't plan something like that, after missing one or two chances. He knows we trust him a lot, everyone in the club, the lads, the coaching team, and he wanted to say thank you. It was for everyone, not just me."
bundesliga.com: The next opponents are Bayern Munich, how do you intend on approaching this game?
Rose: "Positively. We started the year with a win, that was important for us because of the way the league is. Bayern are up next. We all know what they've shown in the last few months, we've also seen how congested Bayern's fixtures are. In December you saw a bit of sharpness was missing and the chance was there to cause them problems. Mainz did it well in the first half. Bayern then got into their flow in the second half, that's just what they do. They're well-rested now, [Joshua] Kimmich is back, [Leon] Goretzka is back, important players for them. We need a very good day but we're always confident. We have to show that on the pitch, to defend as well as possible, work hard in defence and keep their quality at bay and also have a little bit of luck in certain situations and we also need to use the ball. That's always very important against Bayern, then it's possible to get something, it's always possible. Mainz's transitions were very good in the first half. You can't just rely on transitions though, you need the ball in certain phases of the game to be able to recover as well as to give Bayern the feeling that we're also here, watch out!"
Watch: 5 times Gladbach slayed the Bayern giant!
bundesliga.com: You beat Bayern at home last season. That was a typical Borussia-Park game, passion on the pitch and a breathtaking atmosphere in the stands. Can you manage it again without spectators?
Rose: "We're missing them, no question. I've already said in an interview that the points we have dropped at home, we wouldn't have dropped with our fans behind us because they would have pushed us to go for a second goal. They give us a level of euphoria that would've helped us get a second or a third goal. If not, they would've supported us in getting the close leads over the line over time. That's missing, that's clear. They'll be missing again on Friday so we have to find ways and means of being successful without them."
bundesliga.com: Bayern are always hungry to win, despite their many successes and the short break in the summer, how much does that impress you?
Rose: "The bad news for us is that they're out of this phase, the phase in November, December when you had the impression that it was a bit too much for Bayern. It was similar for us, we had this pressure in August which had an effect on us. After this longer Christmas holiday, Kimmich is coming back, Goretzka is back again, Bayern will start the new year and look to build momentum. We have to counteract that. We'll see what we can do on the pitch here on Friday."
bundesliga.com: Jürgen Klopp was recently voted FIFA's Coach of the Year. You played under him in his younger days as a coach. Apparently, he used to go to the discos with the players back then! What makes him so special?
Rose: "Authenticity, it's normal that a coach also enjoys his life, goes out, however old he is. He was already an exceptional coach back then, a top coach. He can't go out as much nowadays because he'd be surrounded by a load of people. It was a special situation in Mainz. He has developed himself exceptionally and become Coach of the Year two years in a row. It was fully deserved as well, even though Hansi Flick won the treble and would also have deserved it."
bundesliga.com: Gladbach have just welcomed a very young player from the USA in Joseph Scally, what can we expect from him?
Rose: "I met him yesterday, he's an open-minded youngster. He needs to settle in, that's very important. He's come from across the pond which isn't always easy. We're excited about him, we're excited about his huge talent. We'll give him the time he needs to get used to everything of course, we'll support him so he can make a good start."