Mönchengladbach - After a sensational ascent last season, 2012/13 was always going to be a year of consolidation for Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Head held high
Nevertheless, Lucien Favre's men still managed a single-figure finish and had a chance of qualifying for Europe right up until Matchday 34.
While they may have falled short of the latter objectinve, satisfaction reigned supreme once the curtain came down on the campaign. A newly-formed Gladbach team had negotiated their way through a testing season in which they had to cope with the added strain of the Europa League in addition to their Bundesliga bread and butter.
“We were unfortunately not consistent enough and the balance between defence and attack was not always right,” said sporting director Max Eberl. “We need to work on that next season.” That said, only four points separated the Foals from a place in Europe again.
Borussia saw key performers , and leave last summer and coach Lucien Favre constantly warned that the expectations should not be too high having “lost our backbone" ahead of what he predicted "to be an extremely tough season.”
Borussia did invest some of their incoming funds in players with potential, but it has to be said that not one of the new arrivals really went close to filling the voids they were signed to plug. , and may just need a little longer to adjust to life in the Bundesliga.
Faith in experience
It was therefore up to the old guard of established and experienced players to lead the way. , for example, was a predatory central defender, was the vacuum in midfield and pulled the strings, even though he fell away in the second half of the season. And then there was much-travelled .
Transformed by Favre from his target-man tendencies to more of a support player, Hanke became something of a tragic hero. Despite appearing in 32 games, the most of any outfield player alongside , his contract was not extended, although his reliability on the park cuaght the eye of SC Freiburg, who soon moved to secure his services.
Second-best season in 17 years
Gladbach's return of 47 points was enough to seal eighth place and can be viewed as a more than satisfactory campaign given their circumstances, especially since they only just survived a relegation play-off barely two years ago.
Favre's men won more games than they lost, but conceded more than twice as many goals as in 2011/12. However, all in all it was still Gladbach's second-best season in the last 17 years, and they will now certainly have the hunger for more.