April 5, 2012 by joshilan14
This time last year, Lucien Favre took charge of a Borussia Monchengladbach side destined for relegation from the Bundesliga. However the change in manager saw a big upturn in fortunes as Die Fohlen picked up 20 points out of a possible 30 to ensure that they didn’t get relegated automatically and instead faced a relegation/promotion play-off against Bochum, who they beat comfortably. Despite that remarkable run, no-one could have predicted that form would carry through to this season and this has turned Monchengladbach from a club battling against relegation to one challenging for Champions League qualification. This has seen many people believe that this form might see another ‘Golden Era’ for the club.
Borussia Monchengladbach was founded in 1900 and 12 years later, they gained promotion to the top tier of German football. They had to wait until 1960 however to win their first national trophy, which came in the German Cup after a 3-2 win over Karlsruhe. The same year saw the club become the first German team to compete in the Cup Winners’ Cup, but they were defeated by Rangers at the quarter-final stage. The appointment of Hennes Weisweiler saw Monchengladbach win promotion to the Bundesliga in the 1964-1965 season. After two seasons in mid-table mediocrity, Weisweiler led Die Fohlen to two consecutive 3rd place finishes, which was a sign of greater things to come for the club from the Lower-Rhine region.
The 1969-1970 season saw Monchengladbach win their first ever Bundesliga title and both the club and Weisweiler won many plaudits along the way not only for the way they played football, but for their usage of younger players-hence where they get the nickname Die Fohlen (the foals) from. They then became the first club in the short history of the Bundesliga to retain the title, with the club holding off competition from Bayern Munich for the title. The key players for both of these successes were defenders Berti Vogts and Klaus-Dieter Sieloff, midfield maestro Gunter Netzer and strikers Jupp Heynckes and Herbert Laumen. The 1972-1973 seasons saw Monchengladbach win their 2nd German Cup, as well as reaching the final of the UEFA Cup, in which they lost to Liverpool. The 1974-1975 season saw Monchengladbach win the Bundesliga and they also won the UEFA Cup for the first time with a victory over Twente. The next season was the final under Weisweiler as he departed for Barcelona, and his reign ended with a second consecutive league title. Udo Lattek continued the job and ensured that Monchengladbach won a third consecutive Bundesliga title but the European Cup eluded them again, with Liverpool defeating them. The club then appeared in two consecutive UEFA Cup finals, which saw them win against Red Star Belgrade in the 1978-1979 edition and they lost to Eintracht Frankfurt in the next edition.
The 1980s saw Monchengladbach challenge the elite but they reaped no success, with trophies eluding them throughout this decade. The 1983-1984 season was the closest they came to a trophy but they finished one point behind champions Stuttgart in the Bundesliga and they lost to arch-rivals Bayern Munich in the German Cup final. The end of the clubs’ ‘Golden Era’ came about due to many of their key players being sold to help sort out their finances. The 1990s saw Monchengladbach fall from grace as they went from challenging the elite to being a club in the lower half of the Bundesliga table. They did win the German Cup in the 1994-1995 season, courtesy of a 3-0 win over Wolfsburg, but this didn’t stop their decline. They were relegated from the Bundesliga for the first time in the 1998-1999 season, but this didn’t come as a surprise to many due to their faltering form. They returned two years later, but they remained a club lurched in mid-table. In 2004, they moved into the Borussia-Park stadium, which has a capacity of 54,000. They got relegated again in the 2006-2007 season, but they returned at the first attempt. The club were in real danger of relegation under the guidance of Michael Frontzeck, but Lucien Favre steered them to safety.
This season has seen Monchengladbach return to challenging the elite and they are currently in 4th place in the Bundesliga, which means that a place in the Champions League next season looks likely. They are doing this well for a number of factors: Lucien Favre has instilled a confidence in the side, which has seen the players, many of whom were involved in the sides’ relegation battle last season, perform better on the pitch; their defence is the second best in the league and like under the days of Weisweiler, there is an emphasis on youth, with the likes of Marc-Andre Ter-Stegen, Roman Neustadter and Marco Reus becoming key parts of the Die Fohlen team. You could argue that Monchengladbach would be in a higher position if they scored more goals, as there 41 Bundesliga goals this season being significantly less than the amount of goals scored by the teams above them. With six games to go, they are 10 points ahead of 5th place Hannover and while a late title challenge is unlikely, it is expected that they will remain in a Champions League spot.
Lucien Favre has been at the helm of the Borrusia-Park club for just over a year, and in this time period, he has taken the club to a likely return to European football. He was a midfielder in his playing career and he played for Laussane, Neuchatel Xamax, Toulouse and Servette in two separate spells. He also won 24 caps for his country of Switzerland, scoring a goal in the process. He took charge of FC Echallens after his retirement and he took the club to the Swiss second division. He then took charge of the Neuchatel Xamax academy before leaving to Yverdon Sports in 1997, where he guided them to promotion and to their highest ever league position of 5th place in the Swiss Super League. This saw him move to Servette in 2000, his former playing club, and in his time at the club he won the Swiss Cup and took the side to the round of 16 in the UEFA Cup. FC Zurich came calling in 2003 and in his four-year tenure at the club; he won two league titles and the Swiss Cup, which saw him win the Swiss Manager of the Year award twice. He left in 2007 for Hertha Berlin and the Bundesliga, with the 2008-2009 season seeing his side finish 4th, which could be compared to what his Monchengladbach side are doing this season. He got sacked the next season due to financial difficulties causing his team to be unable to repeat their antics of the previous season. He was out of football until he took the Monchengladbach job became available. Favre is known for his teams to play an attacking brand of football with a quick tempo, with the defence being organised and rock-solid and a his ability to develop young players, such as Gokhan Inler and Marco Reus; these factors have seen him likened to Hennes Weisweiler, the legendary Monchengladbach manager of their golden era.
Linking in with their nickname Die Fohlen, the side mainly consists of young starlets and a few older and experienced heads. In goal is the impressive Marc-Andre Ter-Stegen, whose form has been so good for Monchengladbach this season that Bayern Munich and Germany legend Sepp Maier said that he is “as good as Manuel Neuer.” Captain Filip Daems is at left-back and is the clubs’ longest serving player. At right back is Tony Jantschke, who can play both in defence and in midfield. The centre-backs are Austrian Martin Stranzl and Brazilian Dante, who has been rumoured to be signing for Bayern Munich. On the left-wing is Juan Arango, who is widely regarded as Venezuela’s best ever player. Patrick Hermann is the right winger and he has represented Germany at every youth level. The central midfield consists of former Arsenal and current Norway international Havard Nordtveit and Roman Neustadtr, whose form this season have seen him agree a deal to sign for Schalke at the end of the season. The inside forward is Marco Reus, who is Monchengladbach’s best player and he has scored 15 goals this season, which has seen him become a German international; he has agreed a deal to join Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season. The striker is Mike Hanke, who went to the World Cup in 2006 with Germany and he suffers a weird allergy to grass.
Monchengladbach have been in the doldrums since the end of their golden era in the 1970s but this season has shown that the golden era could be returning. This season has seen the club go from a side either lurched in mid-table or batting against relegation to a side destined for a Champions League place. The appointment of Lucien Favre just over a year ago has been the springboard for this and his management techniques and usage of young players draw many comparisons to Hennes Weisweiler, who was the man in charge for the majority of Die Fohlen’s golden era. The players have played a big part in this rise, with the likes of Dante, Havard Nordtveit, Juan Arango and Marco Reus having attracted the interests of bigger clubs because of their fantastic form. The next season will show whether this season was just a one-off or whether the club from the Lower-Rhine region can challenge the elite for seasons to come. The one thing that is for sure is that Monchengladbach are a club on the up.
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