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Thomas Tuchel fell out with Borussia Dortmund's board, lost the dressing room and found himself undermined... here is how the German Cup-winning coach's reign deteriorated

May 30, 2017 2:54 PM
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Storm clouds gathered over Berlin at lunchtime on Tuesday. Speculation was growing that Borussia Dortmund had parted ways with Thomas Tuchel.

At around 1pm, the heavens opened and the first wave of thunder struck. Tuchel was gone.

Just three days earlier, Tuchel had enjoyed the greatest success of his career in Berlin, winning the German Cup final in radiant sunshine. But the blue skies were deceptive. The gloom over Tuchel's relationship with Dortmund had been building for weeks.

To those looking in from outside, this may appear the most nonsensical separation of coach and club in modern football history. In pure footballing terms, Tuchel's two years at Dortmund have been a roaring success.

Having picked up the pieces from Jurgen Klopp's disastrous last season in charge, Tuchel twice took Dortmund back into the Champions League, developed and refined the team's style despite crippling personnel changes, and crowned it all with the Cup win last weekend.

So why has he gone? How could Dortmund and Tuchel - once thought a match made in heaven - end in such calamitous indignity? Sportsmail has the lowdown.

Tuesday's revelation was the ultimate conclusion of months of speculation over the rotting relationship between Tuchel and Dortmund.

Despite his success on the field, it had become increasingly clear in the second half of this season that Tuchel and the club hierarchy were beginning to clash.

In their official statement on Tuchel's departure, Dortmund insisted that the decision 'had nothing to do with the relationship between two individuals'. Yet the consensus is that relationships had become so bad between Tuchel and CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke that a parting of the ways was inevitable.

A clash of egos was always on the cards between Watzke and Tuchel. The CEO is the undisputed regent of Borussia Dortmund, often delivering bullish reproaches to rivals, the media and even his own players.

Tuchel, meanwhile, has a record of falling out with his employers, having left former club Mainz with relations in tatters.

The differences between the two reached a head earlier this month, when Watzke admitted that Tuchel had 'irritated' him with his reaction to the controversy over Dortmund's Champions League quarter-final tie with Monaco one day after the team bus had been attacked.

A few weeks later, former Dortmund coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said he felt 'a chasm' had opened up between Watzke and Tuchel, and that it would be 'fatal' for the coach to stay at the club for another season.

Many trace the roots of Tuchel's disquiet back to last summer, when the Dortmund hierarchy sanctioned the sale of several key players, including Ilkay Gundogan, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mats Hummels.

Those three transfers hollowed out Tuchel's first team, and could not be smoothed over by the arrival of young talent such as Ousmane Dembele and Emre Mor.

There was speculation, too, that the return of Mario Gotze had been a decision made by the board without Tuchel's blessing. Transfer policy continued to be a bone of contention throughout the season.

October saw Tuchel clash with long-serving Dortmund scout Sven Mislintat, reportedly banning him from the training ground. In January, the signing of Swedish talent Aleksander Isak caused further controversy after Tuchel admitted to never having seen him play.

With tensions brewing, there was a sense that a huge clash was only around the corner, and so it emerged in the aftermath of the attack on Dortmund's team bus last month.

After the game was rescheduled to just 24 hours after the attempt on the players' lives, Tuchel voiced his frustration, saying he felt that they had been overlooked. The remark was directed at UEFA, but also at Watzke.

Tuchel, it seemed, felt that his boss could have done more to allow the players more time to recover. Both Watzke and club president Reinhard Rauball insisted that the coach and players had been consulted on the rescheduled game, but both also admitted that there had been 'differences' between coach and club in the aftermath.

In the weeks that followed, the relationship between Tuchel and Watzke became visibly sour. The coach's departure seemed imminent.

As speculation over the breakdown in relations grew, Tuchel repeatedly insisted that he had the full backing of his squad.

Yet in truth, the lady seemed to protest too much. In a telling interview on Germany's major Saturday night sports TV show on ZDF, midfielder Nuri Sahin described the relationship between the players and the coach as 'professional'.

Damned with faint praise, Tuchel's insistence that his players backed him to the hilt were becoming steadily less credible.

This weekend, Sahin was once again at the heart of a dispute, after Tuchel left him out of the squad for the final. The decision was openly criticised by other players after the game, even as Dortmund celebrated their first title in five years.

'When Julian Weigl is injured, Nuri is the only one who can really replace him properly in defensive midfield,' said captain Marcel Schmelzer.

With such open criticism from his own captain just hours after the cup triumph, Tuchel must have already begun to pack his bags.

When Tuchel announced his departure on Twitter on Tuesday, hundreds of Dortmund fans took the opportunity to express support and regret, and criticise their own club.

Yet the Borussia faithful are unlikely to shed too many tears for Tuchel. While most will have enjoyed his brand of football and the relative success he has enjoyed in his two years in charge, few can have truly fallen in love with him.

If Tuchel's relationship with the players was too distant, his relationship with the fans was even more so. A ferociously intelligent tactician, Tuchel has always had a more academic, clinical air to him than his predecessor Klopp.

Where Klopp wore his heart on his sleeve and interacted openly with Dortmund's famous Yellow Wall, some observers feel that Tuchel did not buy into the emotional responsibility of being Dortmund coach.

In an era in which the club is expanding commercially, Klopp was always a useful bridge between the businessmen on the board and the fierce traditionalists in the stands. Tuchel, with his more reserved and emotionless approach, failed to fill that role.

The favourite to replace Tuchel at Dortmund has long been Lucien Favre. After a strong spell at Borussia Monchengladbach, Favre shocked the world with his success at Nice in Ligue 1 this season. Familiar and highly rated, Favre would be as good a successor as Dortmund could wish for.

Their only problem may be financial, with Bild estimating that Tuchel's pay off will cost the club around £2.5m. Tuchel, meanwhile, may well be the name on everyone's lips across world football this summer.

He has been linked to Barcelona before, though that is now off the cards after Ernesto Valverde was announced as Luis Enrique's successor this week.

A move to the Premier League would in any case have been a more likely option for Tuchel, who speaks fluent English and has long been linked to various Premier League clubs.

Arsenal have always been top of the list but Arsene Wenger is staying on for another two years.


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