In defence of Dembélé

dembeleAs we’ve known for the past few weeks, Ousmane Demebélé has been AWOL since he’s gotten word that Barcelona desperately wants him. He’s refused to show up for training and has since been fined and suspended by Dortmund for his lack of professionalism. According to German newspaper Bild, he’s last been sighted in Monaco.

It’s never easy for players to resist the allure of playing for a top club, especially when that club is two-time treble winners Barcelona, which also has one of the world’s best players of all-time on their team.

It’s also difficult to resist the enticement of playing in the best league— based on UEFA’s ranking. And while both Dortmund and the Bundesliga, in their own right, are right up there with the best teams and leagues respectively, Barça and La Liga are far more attractive options.

So who could really forgo all that allure? Established players, the likes of Suarez, Rakitic, Modric, Ronaldo and Bale were all unable to fight the temptation to join their current clubs and immediately made the move when the opportunity presented itself. If those players couldn’t resist the urge, how could a 20-year-old rising star possibly do so?

Another perspective

There’s this theory from psychologist Frederick Herzberg, called the Two-Factor Theory. This premise basically suggests there are factors in the workplace, which affect job satisfaction and those which affect job dissatisfaction. The theory makes a distinction between two groups: Motivators and Hygiene factors.

Motivators are described as intrinsic factors arising from work conditions and affect job satisfaction. Some examples of them are: self-actualisation, recognition, opportunity to do something meaningful and a sense of importance.

Hygiene factors, on the other hand, are extrinsic to the work and affect job dissatisfaction. Examples of these factors are: salary/wages, benefits, status, work conditions and good pay.

According to Herzberg, hygiene factors don’t lead to higher motivation or job satisfaction but a lack of these factors can lead to job dissatisfaction. Motivators, conversely, lead to job satisfaction and increased motivation but don’t necessarily eliminate job dissatisfaction.

It’s worth noting here that Herzberg didn’t see job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction as opposites. He saw it the following way:

  • the opposite of job satisfaction as no job satisfaction and,
  • the opposite of job dissatisfaction as no job dissatisfaction.

Considering the information available to us, Dembélé already earns above average wages, works under fairly good conditions and seems to get along with the majority of his peers, which means the likelihood dissatisfaction exists is pretty low— conclusion: no dissatisfaction. He, however, feels that he’s done enough at Dortmund and achieved all he could, which means he sees no job satisfaction and the only way to achieve this is to seek a new challenge, currently offered by Barça. What normal, ambitious person doesn’t have a desire to accomplish more and even more so when the opportunity to do so is banging at the door?

So, while most of us may think Dembélé only wants this move because of the increased pay which comes with it, it is worth considering that it’s equally likely and possibly more logical that he’s pushing for a transfer to Barça because he:

  • has the opportunity to “do something meaningful” like win the Champions League— an unlikely feat for Dortmund this season, with or without him.
  • has the opportunity to “do something meaningful” like win the league and though plausible at Dortmund will prove difficult to do, considering Bayern is so dominant.
  • has the opportunity to “do something meaningful” like take on a new challenge in a new and better league
  • can feel a “sense of importance” by being able to compete and win every possible trophy.
  • can feel a “sense of importance” by becoming a regular at a top club and playing with one of the world’s all-time greats.
  • can feel a “sense of responsibility” by becoming the player who satisfactorily fills the colossal aperture left behind by Neymar.

So before we condemn and bemoan him and deem him a money grubber, it’s worth considering the need to fulfil his potential, something Dortmund can no longer offer him.

Dortmund have also resigned themselves to a sale, as was revealed earlier today by the club’s sporting director Michael Zorc before the team’s Bundesliga kick-off, and we should too.


Dortmund off to a great start, while Gladbach stutters

image_1Two games into the new Bundesliga season and things seem to be going good for some teams; for others, as expected and for another group it has been nothing short of disastrous and although it’s still early days there has to be some worry for certain teams, while others can be rightly overjoyed that they have hit the ground running.

Dortmund, in the first leg of their UEFA Europa league group stage qualifiers had a slight scare against ODD Bk. However, with the quintessence of champions they battled back from three [early] goals down to defeat the Norwegians 4-3 in Norway. Today, in the return leg against the same opponents, Dortmund overturned an early one-goal lead to trounce ODD 7-2. Not only have they been extremely convincing in their four continental games, they’ve also won every other official league and domestic cup game comfortably and utterly convincing.

Tuchel has managed to so far help Dortmund reignite the radiant style of football started by Jürgen Klopp with silky passing and cogent team defending. They’ve conceded a mere five goals from seven games and scored a whopping 27(!).

Initially, I was apprehensive that they would be a genuine threat to Bayern this season but based on their recent performances and Bayern’s semi-poor display at Hoffenheim at the weekend, there is some renewed hope that the Schwarzgelben can really put some pressure on the record league winners and based on their schedule they have a chance to really set the pace before they meet Bayern. The Bavarians have two challenging games ahead of them before they meet Dortmund on match day eight, including this weekend’s match up against Bayer Leverkusen, a team that appears to be hitting a new high after reversing a one-goal deficit against Lazio in the return leg of the Champions League play-off round. Munich is also expected to be without key defensive players for that game- Boateng was sent off last weekend and Benatia exited the pitch injured. The other potential danger game for the Munich team is against Wolfsburg on match day six. Dortmund’s schedule has them at home against Berlin this weekend, away to Hannover, at home to Leverkusen, away to Hoffenheim and then home to newly promoted Darmstadt before travelling to Munich. Based on their current form and their league timetable for the next five games before meeting the defending champs, Bayer Leverkusen is the only team that poses them any real threat.

borussia-dortmundWhile der BVB has been frighteningly wonderful, Borussia Mönchengladbach has been shockingly appalling. They were trounced 4-0 by Dortmund in the season opener and despite being an all around great performance for The Black and Yellows, die Fohlen were dreadful in defence and lacking creativity at the other end. At the weekend, against Mainz, they displayed the same apathy in defence and deficiency going forward. They’ve been sadly disappointing, losing their opening league games conceding six goals and scoring one. They need to turn things around soon and their schedule allows for just that. Their next five games are against: Bremen (A), Hamburg (H), Köln (A), Augsburg (H) and Stuttgart (A). Apart from Köln and Augsburg, the other teams all struggled last season and haven’t really started this season well.

Gladbach was today drawn alongside Juventus (last season’s finalist), Manchester City and Sevilla (last season’s Europa Cup winners) in group D of the Champions League. However, if this slump in form continues, I have qualms about them posing any danger to the other teams and it is already a tough group even for the form they displayed last season, which won them a third place finish in the league.

578341_heroaGladbach’s problem lies with them being a feeder club for other teams, both in the Bundesliga and around the continent. Added to that, they tend to build their core team around “borrowed” players. Kramer, for example, was key to their shape in midfield. He was the player that cut out opponents’ attacks, sprung counters and helped to control the game’s tempo. However, he returned to Leverkusen. Max Kruse, a crucial part of their attack, was sold to title challengers, Wolfsburg. His case represents an instance of a player who gets sold after a few impressive seasons. Such occurrences make it hard for die Fohlen to return to their former glory years of the 70’s and it will certainly take a toll on them in European competition.

Both Dortmund and Gladbach are for the moment at two different sides of the continuum- one sitting atop the table, while the other is rooted to the bottom. One team has to focus on keeping their form with the other having to focus on improving. It is, of course, very early in the season and BVB is capable of going all the way just as Favre is competent to lead his Gladbach team out of this slump.

Bundesliga 2015/2016: Opening Day

FCB_HSV_03_GET_140815.variant846x476It is tradition in the Bundesliga for the champions to kick-start the new campaign and on Friday, defending champs FC Bayern Munich kicked off the new season with aplomb, trouncing Hamburg SV 5-0. It was an impressive showing from the Münchner and yet another dismal performance for Hamburg following their DFB Pokal loss to 4th league team FC Carl Zeiss Jena. Bayern and fans alike should be extremely pleased about the team’s business so far this transfer window and the performances of their new and returning players, particularly that of Douglas Costa. His presence in the team has been refreshing and means that Ribery’s prolonged injury problems and Robben’s propensity to pick up knocks means the Bavarians have a more than capable winger to cover any such absences. If his form continues, one can even assume the Brazilian will in fact nab the starting role from either man. He was very lively in his first Bundesliga outing, scoring the final goal in his team’s rout, providing the assist on one of Müller’s goals and had a hand in the many chances Bayern created.

On Saturday, we got to see the two newcomers, FC Ingolstadt 04 and SV Darmstadt 98. Both teams played impressively well, holding their own against Bundesliga veterans FSV Mainz 05 and Hannover 96. Ingolstadt came away with the biggest upset on the day defeating the Mainzer 1-0 with Hinterseer scoring the club’s historic first Bundesliga goal in the 66th minute, a beautifully curved shot into the right corner of the goal from just inside the box. Darmstadt, providing the most exciting game on the day, had the pacey winger/striker Heller to thank for their point in the season opener, after he ran the length of the field on a counter, turning a defender out and then curling one into the top corner to give his team the lead. However, Hannover equalised in the second half through Benschop but that lead wouldn’t last long as Heller sneaked in to steal the ball from Albornoz just outside the box, rounded the keeper and slotted the ball home to hand his side a temporary lead, which was cancelled out minutes later by a Sulu own goal. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. A good start for the newly promoted team from Darmstadt and surely Marco Sailer’s beard has continued to bring The Lilies luck.

FC Schalke 04, previously on a winless streak in their last five season openers, managed to put a hurting on SV Werder Bremen in the Weserstadion. The most beautiful goal (and the opener) came from Gabriel Selassie, albeit an own goal. Choupo-Moting and Huntelaar scored the other goals. Many doubted the competence of the new coach, André Breitenreiter, who coached the relegated SC Paderborn 07 last season. It’s still early days but he has, however, proved that he just might know what he is doing as the Königsblauen have now scored eight goals in their first two official games. The setup of Geis, Draxler, Goretzka and Choupo-Moting is proving to be a dazzling and strong midfield for The Royal Blues and an astute decision from Breitenreiter as it provides the team from Gelsenkirchen with a wonderful balance in midfield when going forward and defending. Goretzka playing as a box-to-box midfielder, whose fantastic eye for goal, finishing and passing capabilities provides them with plenty in offence, while in defence, he can pull out a tackle that can stop the opposition in their tracks. Meanwhile, his partner Geis brings a powerful long-range strike, free-kick proficiency and defensive class. The pairing has so far been lucrative, as Schalke has yet to concede a goal in competitive play and has exploded offensively.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen, another team with talented young players, got their season off to a winning start by defeating a new-look, Firmino-less TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, 2-1. Newcomer and former Hamburg wunderkind Jonathan Tah got his first start for Bayer 04 alongside former Schalke man Papadopoulos in the middle of defence; both playing very well. Hoffenheim managed to open the scoring in the fifth minute of play through the Swiss, Zuber; Wendel played him onside after a clever pass through the middle from Polanski. However, Kießling would equalise for the home side tucking away the rebound after a save from Baumann on Wendel’s shot from outside the box. It was a save that Baumann should have done better with but instead palmed the ball straight down the middle into the feet of Kießling; an elementary goalkeeping error. Up and coming star Julian Brandt scored the all-important winning goal in the 71st minute. The team from Leverkusen played well and had some great chances throughout the game; and while Hoffenheim didn’t play too badly, they did enough that if the game had ended in a draw, they would’ve still deserved the point.

In the other early game on Saturday, Hertha Berlin SC scraped a 1-0 win over Augsburg thanks to Kalou’s effort from the spot after being clumsily tackled by Klavan. It was a game in which a player from either side was sent off: Augsburg’s Bobadilla on the stroke of half-time, picking up a silly second yellow for recklessly diving into a challenge and Berlin’s Roy Beerens picking up his second yellow in the 66th minute for a silly foul on Feulner.

In Saturday’s final game and the top-game of the week, BVB Dortmund obliterated Borussia Mönchengladbach, scoring three goals in the first 32 minutes: Kagawa’s pass found Reus in the box and after a little trickery to beat his marker he fired a shot beating the goalkeeper at his near post. Seven minutes later, Aubamenyang would head in Schmelzer’s accurate cross and ten minutes after, Kagawa sprang a counter attack threading the ball through for Aubamenyang, whose fine pace beat the defender before he unselfishly squared the ball past the onrushing keeper for Mkhitaryan, who blasted the ball into an empty net. Dortmund started the second half the same way they did the first scoring their fourth in the 51st minute again on the counter; Kagawa laying the ball off for Reus, who speeds down the right flank before cutting the ball back to Mkhitaryan, who once more hit the ball into an empty net. The movement of the attacking players caused Gladbach all sorts of trouble and the likes of Reus, Mkyhitaryan, Aubameyang and Kagawa were incredibly difficult to contain. Apart from the aforementioned players, another standout for the Schwarzengelb was youngster and new signing Julian Weigl. The 19-year-old had an outstanding game in midfield, helping to control the game alongside Gündogan and stifling any attack Gladbach threw at his team. Coming from playing in the second league with 1860 Munich, he handled himself with the equanimity of a seasoned Bundesliga player and the Dortmund fans should be justly excited about him and his future in their team. Additionally, Bürki looks like a good replacement for Weidenfeller despite an early hesitation that could have led to a goal for Gladbach in the opening minutes of the game. For a team playing in the Champions League next season, it was a very disappointing start to the season for Gladbach; they looked lackadaisical in defence and clueless going forward and if they intend to play like this in Europe, the fans should be worried. As for Dortmund? They seemed to have found their footing again under Tuchel and though it’s early days, they look an exciting team once more.

There are two more games left to play in match day one and will take place on Sunday. VFL Wolfsburg will take on Eintracht Frankfurt at home and 1. FC Köln travels to VFB Stuttgart.