A change of personnel in the managerial hot seats at Cologne and Borussia Dortmund has brought some much-needed joy to the fans of both clubs, particularly at Dortmund with the side winning back-to-back games for the first time since August.
Peter Stoger’s appointment from bottom side Cologne, where he had not won a match this season, has galvanised Dortmund, who had gone eight games without a win before Stoger took on the job.
A assured second-half performance saw Dortmund defeat Mainz 05 2-0 in midweek courtesy of goals from centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shinji Kagawa, albeit against a side struggling for form at the bottom-end of the table in 15th place.
Nevertheless, an all-important three points was vital for a Dortmund side who were plummeting down the table having not won since the end of September.
A fresh face with fresh ideas can often be the perfect tonic for a struggling team, even if the managerial business is becoming increasingly about short-term solutions for many teams, with no sense of longevity if recent form suddenly takes a turn for the worse.
Stoger has rediscovered the wining feeling which saw him lead Cologne to 5th place last season, before his nightmare start with them this season. Indeed, Stoger led Dortmund to successive victories with an impressive 2-1 home win over Hoffenheim.
? 30.000 Dortmunder singen Weihnachtslieder! ??? pic.twitter.com/fmHc7sOytR
— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) December 17, 2017
The win catapults Dortmund up to third place in the table after they had been seventh when Stoger was appointed. Although the teams down to Borussia Monchengladbach in sixth place all have the same number of points as Dortmund, in what is looking like being a closely-fought battle for European places.
Goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and a late winner from Christian Pulisic, two minutes before injury time, made it six points from six for Stoger as Dortmund turned the game on its head after going behind in the 20th minute. Like the performance at Mainz, Stoger’s half-time team talk appeared to do the trick as Dortmund went on to produce improved second-half displays in both games.
Stoger’s honeymoon start will be severely tested on Wednesday as Dortmund take on league leaders Bayern Munich in the DFB cup at the Allianz Arena. However, when returning to league action next weekend, Dortmund have a very presentable opportunity to make it three wins in a row when facing 12th place Wolfsburg at the Signal Iduna Park. Indeed, Wolfsburg are without a win in three games, as Stoger looks to continue his good start.
Wolfsburg were defeated by Cologne 1-0 on Saturday. Stoger’s former club were on the back of a dejecting 4-3 defeat at home to Freiburg last weekend, where they conceded in the 96th minute having been 3-0 up.
Sorry for the long wait, #effzeh fans. There it is: the first league win of the season!#KOEWOB // 1-0 pic.twitter.com/3o0fkvl7xn
— 1. FC Cologne (@fckoeln_en) December 16, 2017
Having moved up to coach the first-team from the under-19s, Stefan Ruthenbeck led Cologne to a gutsy win against Wolfsburg thanks to Christian Clemens’ 67th minute winner. The match followed up Cologne’s valiant efforts in midweek where they were narrowly beaten by Bayern Munich away from home.
They are still nine points adrift at the bottom of the table, but like Dortmund, a new face in charge has had an impact on the club’s fortunes.