Do we need a Stöger Watch, too?

Why should Borussia Dortmund’s problem have to now become our problem?

Because Thomas Tuchel’s personality apparently rubbed many front-office personnel the wrong way, the BVB sent their chosen successor to cult hero Jürgen Klopp packing shortly after guiding the club to their first trophy since their legendary leader left for Liverpool.

Among the early fallout, if many reports are to be believed, the name of our own accomplished trainer, Peter Stöger, apparently has landed on Dortmund’s short list to succeed Tuchel.

Then again, the coach himself has said of the rumors that, “Just because more are writing it doesn’t make it more true.”

Before heading to vacation in Mallorca with a stop in Austria, Stöger also told Express“There has been no contact with Borussia Dortmund” and “Nobody needs to get nervous.”

Yet, how else are we to fill the “summer void” if we don’t over-analyze everyone

Is it a better job or just a different job?

As much as we FC love to think of players and trainers as especially “ours” until we are ready to be done with them, Stöger arrived in Köln through the second division and left FK Austria Wien (Vienna, if you must) despite having just won Austrian Bundesliga and being headed to Champions League.

Also of note, FK Austria Wien is Stöger’s hometown club and where he spent the bulk of his playing career.

See where I’m heading with all this? If sentimentality amid wild success could not anchor the man at a job in his beloved hometown, is there any reason to think those factors will weigh in a decision should an offer come his way?

The answer here is clearly a big-fat “NEIN!”

Stöger saw a huge opportunity in Köln and has largely taken advantage of it. His team has improved every season, but will face its toughest tests yet in that regard with Europa League added to the schedule.  This doesn’t even factor in what personnel holes may need to be plugged by the time summer ends.

Essentially, the Peter Stöger brand is likely as fashionable as it’s going to be for a while. If he believes his career progression requires a job change, this summer would be a relatively ideal time to make it.

But . . . Is it a better job or just a different job?

Despite the Sturm and Drang surrounding the dismissal of Tuchel, the situation in Dortmund has not quite Schalke-fied club management.  The environs there are much more stable than what’s being shown just this minute.

Plus, there can be no comparison between the FC and the BVB when it comes to widespread recognition. Sure, that may also come with added pressure, but the club in Dortmund is well-established as a major player in UEFA without getting overzealous about their expectations. When Bayern eventually reclaimed their place at the top of the Bundesliga table, it wasn’t as if club leadership came to decide that Klopp was no longer the man to move them forward. They took measure of the field and figured, “We are in a good spot, here.”

Naturally, the same could be said by Stöger while weighing the pros and cons of an offer to move to Dortmund . . . which, it should be said, has not remotely been made, as far as anyone is willing to admit.

Just because expectations in Dortmund don’t quite rise to the level of “silly,” doesn’t mean there are not some firm expectations.  Tuchel’s successor may not be expected to successfully defend the DFB Cup and start stringing together runs into the semifinal or final rounds of Champions League, but the club will undoubtedly be looking to return to their relatively recent status as Germany’s clear-cut second-best. The soda-fueled rise of RB Leipzig and the Nagelsmann-fueled rise of Hoffenheim mean a wider field in the race to Champions League.

While it might not be true for many FC fans, there is a very patient (at least publicly) mindset among leadership with regard to progress and success.  Failing to reach the knockout stages of Europa League and dropping toward the relegation zone in the table are, at minimum, very realistic prospects for the club, if only measuring by what has happened in recent years to Mainz, Freiburg, and Frankfurt when they added the Thursday night competition to their schedule. Nobody will want to expect a backward step in the table a year from now, but nobody is going to be ready to run Stöger out of town over it, either.

Then again, Klopp was hardly under threat when he had Dortmund in the Bundesliga cellar for stretches of the 2014-15 season before a second-half surge into Europa League salvation. Again, not a panicky club.

So . . . Is it a better job or just a different job?

The bar for setting a new standard in Dortmund is pretty high. The back-to-back titles and a Champions League final under Klopp are far too recent for a new guy to arrive without having to match so he can emerge from that lingering shadow. It is a tremendous challenge for an ambitious trainer, and it’s a club that has the means to make it possible, but it’s still a fairly daunting task. It comes down to how comfortable one might be with unending comparisons to the guy who will always be a club legend.

In Köln, Stöger has already set the bar and can only continue to move it higher.  And there are multiple rungs to be reached before we’re talking “now you have to unseat Bayern . . . twice . . . in a row . . . (throw in a Champions League final, please).”

Knockout stages in Europa League? LEGEND!

Consecutive trips to UEFA Competition? LEGEND!

First-ever Champions League finish? LEGEND!

Bundesliga title challenge? LEGEND!

Granted, Stöger’s legacy in Köln at this point is fairly well written in stone.  That said, if he were to suddenly leave and the next guy manages any or multiple of the above? Well, nobody is going to forget the foundation of that, but there would quickly be a new sheriff in town (who would quickly be among the names bantered about when the next BVB-like job opening was posted).

In the end, however, I beg of you . . . Is it a better job or just a different job?

There is no way to know how important the elusive notion of “legacy” is to Stöger, personally. We do know that he is plenty ambitious. It seems unlikely that the FC is his “forever home,” but for the immediate future, Stöger has plenty of room before he maxes-out what he can achieve as the trainer of the 1. FC Köln.

“Better” is in the eye of the beholder.

And we all know that there is plenty “different” about being effzeh.


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