Borussia Mönchengladbach lost three of their opening 13 matches of the 2017/18 season, but two of them included a 6-1 thrashing at Borussia Dortmund and a 5-1 home defeat against Bayer Leverkusen. Inconsistency was the problem with Dieter Hecking’s side who failed to win consecutive Bundesliga games since November.
Mönchengladbach laboured to ninth place for the second consecutive season and were knocked out by Leverkusen in the 3rd Round of the DFB-Pokal. They should have achieved more and with their budget there is little excuse for finishing behind Stuttgart and Eintracht Frankfurt.
Managerial Background – Dieter Hecking
Dieter Hecking took over in December 2016 after spells at Nürnberg and Wolfsburg where he enjoyed considerable success. The 53-year-old guided the Wolves to second place in the 2014/15 Bundesliga with victories in the DFB-Pokal and DFL-Supercup.
Hecking was unable to build on his success at Wolfsburg however, sacked in October 2016 with the Wolves in 14th position. With no continental distractions last season the expectation was to qualify for Europe. Ninth position was a failure and he is under pressure to deliver.
Out: The major departure this summer has been central defender Jannik Vestergaard to Southampton (€25m). The sparingly used Vincenzo Grifo moved to Hoffenheim and Raúl Bobadilla was sold to Argentinos.
In: 25-year-old striker Alassane Pléa comes in from Nice (€23m) alongside promising 19-year-old Keanan Bennetts from Tottenham’s U23 squad (€2.25m). The full-back positions have been strengthened with the additions of 18-year-old Andreas Poulsen (€4.5m) and 27-year-old Michael Lang (€2.8m).
The expectation has to be a return to Europe. Having no European football to contend with is a huge advantage in their pursuit of a top six finish and failure to do so could see Hecking sacked.
With Lars Stindl pulling the strings alongside Thorgan Hazard and Raffael, there should be plenty of service for Alassane Pléa who is poised for a big season. The goals should flow, but the defence needs to improve after conceding 52 goals last season.
Strongest XI (4-2-3-1)
Sommer – Lang, Ginter, Elvedi, Wendt – Kramer, Zakaria – Raffael, Stindl, Hazard – Pléa
By Matthew Marshall.