Jurgen Klopp

Jurgen Klopp's final year at Borussia Dortmund: What happened?

Tom Gott
Klopp's final year at Dortmund was one to forget
Klopp's final year at Dortmund was one to forget / VI-Images/GettyImages
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Jurgen Klopp's famous Borussia Dortmund side is one of the most iconic teams in recent memory. They emerged as a genuine European powerhouse, so much so that their massive decline in Klopp's final season at the club almost slips under the radar.

The two-time Bundesliga winners and 2012/13 Champions League finalists endured a nightmare 2014/15 campaign, spending half the season flirting with the relegation zone before a resurgence in February saw them salvage a semi-respectable seventh placed finish.

So, what went wrong? Here's a look at how Klopp's seventh and final season at Dortmund played out.


Pre-season

Dortmund, who finished second in the Bundesliga the previous year, lost Robert Lewandowski on a free transfer but still went on to win the 2014 DfL-Supercup, seeing off the Pole's new employers, Bayern Munich, 2-0 with goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

That result came after Dortmund enjoyed a summer of seven wins and one draw from their nine pre-season friendlies - the only defeat coming in a 4-0 thumping by Liverpool. The level of competition was low, but Klopp's side were scoring goals for fun, even putting ten past Swiss side Rapperswil-Jona.


August

CORRECTION-FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-DORTMUND-LEVERKUSEN
A disasterous start / PATRIK STOLLARZ/GettyImages

An ominous omen began the season as Dortmund conceded the fastest goal in Bundesliga history on their opening day. They trailed Bayer Leverkusen after just nine seconds and eventually fell to a 2-0 defeat.

Star winger Jakub Blaszczykowski was absent for that game as he neared the end of his recovery from a nasty knee injury, with captain and star centre-back Mats Hummels also unavailable alongside midfielders Ilkay Gundogan and Nuri Sahin.

Nevertheless, the second and final game of the month was a 3-2 win over Augsburg.


September

Blaszczykowski picked up a fresh muscle injury as he attempted to make his return and would miss the entire month of September, as would Gundogan and Marco Reus, who damaged his ankle.

A 3-1 win over Freiburg kicked off the month before things started to take their turn. They lost 2-0 to Mainz, drew 2-2 with Stuttgart and then fell 2-1 to Schalke in the derby, with defensive lapses and individual mistakes starting to litter their performances. Klopp had vowed to 'put things right' against Schalke but it was arguably the poorest showing of the season so far.

Hummels made it back for all but the first game, playing 80 minutes against Schalke, but looked well off the pace.

They did, however, beat Arsenal 2-0 in the Champions League.


October

Fingers started to be pointed in October. Dortmund lost all three games - against Hamburg, Koln and Hannover - and it was at this point that Klopp felt the need to speak out.

"I think it's completely normal for questions to be asked about the attitude of my team. You can list all the missing players, but so what? You still have 11, don't you? For me, this is a phase as a coach in which I simply have to work harder."

Injuries and a lack of preparation following the World Cup that summer were the targets of Klopp's wrath at this point. Importantly, however, fans remained committed to the boss.


November

A fifth defeat on the bounce - a 2-1 loss to Bayern Munich - kicked off November. Hummels injured himself yet again during that game and would go on to miss the three remaining games. Blaszczykowski was still out and Gundogan was uncomfortable after missing seven games with his back problem.

A 1-0 win over Gladbach provided welcome relief but there was a draw against Paderborn and a defeat to Frankfurt to close out November, and it was after the latter that fans started to voice their frustrations towards the players.

Fans began to whistle and berate the squad, with middle fingers raised all over the crowd, and Klopp admitted he had no issues with that sort of response.

"It was clear that this would happen. We don't make it easy for them, you have to say that," he said as Dortmund fell to 18th in the Bundesliga table.


December

"We didn't become a bit stupid overnight and no longer know what works and what doesn't."

They were the words of Klopp as a month of one win from five games across the Bundesliga and Champions League saw questions asked about his competence to lead the team and ability to navigate a way through this crisis.

Klopp did vow, however, that things would get better in 2015 once his players were all fit, healthy and well-rested after the mid-season break.

Sahin and Blaszczykowski both made their first appearances of the season this month as the team threatened to get back to full strength.


January/February

Bundesliga - "Borussia Dortmund v Schalke 04"
Dortmund started to figure themselves out / VI-Images/GettyImages

He wasn't wrong.

While a 0-0 draw with Bayer Leverkusen and a 1-0 defeat to Augsburg was a rough way to start off the second half of the campaign, Dortmund quickly turned things around. They won four Bundesliga games in a row - seeing off Freiburg, Mainz, Stuttgart and Schalke - with only a respectable 2-1 defeat to Juventus in Europe to dampen spirits.

February also brought the welcome news of a contract extension for Reus, who vowed not to follow Mario Gotze and Lewandowski out the exit door.

Dortmund ended the month in 10th.


March

February proved to be a false dawn unfortunately as Dortmund's defensive nightmares resurfaced.

They drew twice against Hamburg and Koln before being dispatched from the Champions League with a 3-0 loss to Juventus, and although the month ended with a 3-2 win over Hannover, the only memory was Dortmund's woeful defence over the final two games.

Dortmund did make it through to the quarter-final of the DfB-Pokal, but that wasn't the biggest cause for cheer.


April

Jurgen Klopp
Klopp called time on his Dortmund career / Anadolu Agency/GettyImages

Bayern Munich took a 1-0 victory to kick off April before being announced as Dortmund's opponent in the semi-final of the cup, after which came a 3-1 defeat to Gladbach.

All forms of encouragement had not worked for Klopp, who had one trick left up his sleeve - to resign.

He asked to be released from his contract shortly after the Gladbach game, citing a need to step aside and let Dortmund focus on rebuilding without any distractions or ties to the past.

It was unconventional, but it did spark the team into life. They won twice in the Bundesliga against Paderborn and Frankfurt, before seeing off Bayern to advance to the DfB-Pokal final.


May

Dortmund managed to clamber their way back into the Europa League spots with a solid run of form in May. They lost just one of their four Bundesliga games, beating Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen.

In one final send-off from Klopp, Dortmund tried to get their hands on the domestic cup but instead put on a display which did nothing but remind the crowd of just how far they had fallen and just how seriously things needed to change.

Defensive mistakes were aplenty as Kevin De Bruyne's Wolfsburg roared to a 3-1 victory, but fans still celebrated Klopp's every move and were undoubtedly sad to see him go, despite how the season had ended up.


Aftermath

Klopp's exit did bring about change for Dortmund, who would finish second in the Bundesliga under Thomas Tuchel in 2015/16.

While director Hans-Joachim Watzke was happy to see the upturn in form, he later confessed that he regretted parting ways with Klopp and perhaps should have given him an entirely new team to work with.

"Maybe it would have been better if we had replaced the entire team - and not the coach," he wrote. "It was clear to me that we would never get a coach like that again, but we would find good players."

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