Gladbach - Though going nine consecutive matches has underlined their status as a ‘work in progress’, Borussia Mönchengladbach have left no doubt as to their unerring belief in the club’s current undertaking.
Kruse: 'I’m not worried'
Sitting in third place during the winter break, the Foals have since slipped as low as eighth after picking up just five points from a possible 27 since the turn of the year. However, while their current form crisis has been a source of disappointment, Gladbach’s focus remains resolutely on engineering positive, long-term sustainability.
The latest setback, a 2-1 loss to FC Augsburg on Matchday 24, has increased the pressure on Borussia, but German international Max Kruse doesn’t believe a poor run of form is reason enough to question a club's quality. “We’ve scored first in our last four games but have thrown it away each time,” conceded the striker. “However, it’s not because we’re a bad team or that we underperformed, but because we’ve lost sight of what we need to do after conceding.”
A misfiring front line, which has contributed just eight goals in the last nine games, has become a cause for concern, but Kruse, himself without a goal since in 855 minutes of action, has not lost faith in his own or the club’s ability. “We're struggled recently but it isn't all doom and gloom,” elaborated the 25-year-old. “Everyone needs to take a look in the mirror and ask themselves what’s gone wrong, myself included. I’m not worried, though. We know what we’re capable of.”
Pieces of the puzzle
Sporting director Max Eberl claimed Borussia were “far exceeding our expectations” back in December but has refused to allow the club to rest on their laurels since, especially in light of their recent downturn in form. “We've got a long way to go yet," stated Eberl, who has ensured that preparations for the 2014/15 campaign are well underway and running smoothly after agreeing some timely contract extensions to a few club stalwarts and making a shrewd foray into the transfer market.
First-team regulars Martin Stranzl, Filip Daems and Tony Jantschke have all signed new deals, while the summer arrivals of Fabian Johnson and Yann Sommer provide further proof that Gladbach’s ongoing project remains an attractive one. “Borussia are a big club with a lot of tradition,” said Sommer, the man charged with replacing the departing Marc-Andre ter Stegen. “Their development has been incredible and hopefully I can play a part in making sure that progress continues.”
The Foals sent out their clearest indication of forward-thinking on Wednesday, announcing that head coach Lucien Favre, who has heavily invested in ingraining a modern footballing philosophy at the club, had signed a two-year contract extension. “In this phase of transition there are going to be highs and lows,” explained the Swiss tactician. “We have to continue working on the smallest of details. We want to add a greater sense of stability and continue developing step-by-step.”
Tactically one of the division's most astute coaches, Favre has perhaps been undermined by his own brilliance. Having guided the Foals to a top-four finish the season after swooping in to rescue them from the drop, expectations surrounding the club have risen exponentially. “After surviving relegation in 2010/11 we enjoyed an incredible season, but then we had to start from scratch,” admitted the 56-year-old, who was keen to stress that there is still plenty of work to be done. “We need time to build ourselves a solid foundation.”
Borussia have the building blocks at their disposal, yet more importantly those involved at the club believe in establishing longevity and not finding a quick-fix solution, an approach that can often be the downfall of a Bundesliga club. Gladbach's recent form may be a far cry from their first-half of the season when ten wins from 17 put them third at the winter break, but there’s no denying their future remains a bright one.