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Borussia Dortmund's staggering decline puts Jurgen Klopp under enormous pressure

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Borussia Dortmund's time as the ultimate club for European football hipsters has passed, with Jurgen Klopp now facing easily the most testing four months of his managerial career to date.

Klopp's side are rock bottom of the Bundesliga and last night's 1-0 defeat at home to Augsburg finally saw that supporters voice audible frustration with what has to rank as one of the most spectacular, unexpected free-falls in living memory.

A significant majority of the 80,000 fans at the Westfalen booed Dortmund off after an 11th loss of the season, with their stance not calmed by the presence of captain Mats Hummels and Romain Weidenfeller in front of the Yellow Wall at full-time.

What's wrong with Dortmund?

Klopp has every right to wonder where it's all gone wrong, but has no time for an inquest and must instead find a way to ensure his legacy as Dortmund boss is not tainted by a humiliating relegation.

The fiery boss looked in a state of shock after being humbled by an Augsburg side who earned their first ever over Dortmund through a mix of tactical nous and assured, organised defending.

Klopp's side were totally out of ideas and created just a solitary clear-cut opportunity despite playing 10 men for the final 26 minutes, which arguably means their latest slip is far worrying than anything that's come previous in this dreadful season.

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Players are letting Klopp down

During a dismal domestic slide before the winter break there were some mitigating circumstances for Dortmund, with key personnel consistently injured.

Talismanic skipper Hummels missed seven of their first 13 games with a knee problem, mercurial midfielder Marco Reus only played seven times from a possible 17 in the first half of the season.

Klopp still has more than enough talent to keep Dortmund passable in their absence though, but his most recent marquee signings have flattered to deceive. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is a perfect case in-point.

Signed for a club-record €27.5m last summer as a replacement for Bayern Munich-bound Mario Gotze, the hugely talented Armenian playmaker has fallen well short of that lofty expectation. The 26-year-old hasn't scored in the Bundesliga or Champions League all season and only has a single assist to show for 19 games in both competitions.

Mkhitaryan doesn't seem to have the stomach for a relegation battle either, with his agent Mino Raiola freely admitting he wants out. The 26-year-old was a substitute last night and his eventual arrival late in the game was not greeted warmly by a crowd who expect unwavering commitment at the very least.

Immobile signing was a mis-step

Klopp's choice of successor for star striker Robert Lewandowski has also been a disaster. Italian forward Ciro Immobile arrived riding the crest of wave after finishing last season as Serie A's joint-top scorer, but despite a very favourable start to life in Champions League has been woeful domestically.

Immobile has notched just three times in the league this term, and while its not uncommon for new signings to struggle in unfamiliar surroundings his miss against Augsburg was inexcusable.

Deep into stoppage time the forward broke free at the far post and was presented with a free header at goal from point-blank range, but could only tamely send his effort straight to veteran former Arsenal goalkeeper Alex Manninger.

The 24-year-old has worked hard and shown willing, but quite frankly Dortmund need so much more as a matter urgency.

Klopp needs a major re-think

In a glorious rise to double-winning glory and Champions League finals Klopp's high-octance, merciless gameplan or pressing relentlessly in key areas worked a treat, but it has to said that in recent times his side have been all too easily shut down.

Goals and principally creativity in the final third have been a huge problem, which is staggering when you consider the likes of Shinji Kagawa, Reus, Ilkay Gundogan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all have huge technical ability.

You have to look beyond the obvious problem of a lack of confidence when examining Dortmund's recent problems, their approach has been tactically inflexible and that has to be down to the manager.

Such a fervent, passionate home support has also become a hinderance rather than a help. Mistakes have become commonplace because the core of Dortmund's squad are so desperate to improve results they're panicking, both in and out of possession.

Big mistakes are there for all to see

Klopp look absolutely stunned in the aftermath of the painful Augsburg defeat, but did find time to give another open, honest and impassioned verdict on his side's shortcomings to reporters.

"We can be accused of anything tonight and it is all justified," he said. Battling also means having the courage to take the right decision. We were missing that tonight.

"It hurts, no doubt. We are doing everything wrong at the moment. We are not making anything of our chances.”

Eloquent, frank interviews are all well and good, but what Dortmund need now more than ever are results and a change in approach, not another brilliant speech from one of Europe's most popular coaches.

At the risk of kicking a man while he's down, Klopp has to held accountable for allowing results to fall off the edge of a cliff. Stagnation and a slide down the table, sure that is forgivable, but four wins in 19 attempts certainly isn't.

Saturday's result will now be pivotal

A quick glance at the situation at fellow strugglers in Hamburg, Hertha Berlin and to a much lesser extent Werder Bremen and Schalke 04 should remind Klopp that he's ultimately very lucky to still be in a job.

All four have sacked their managers already this season after sliding close the relegation zone, all while Dortmund have sunk to rock bottom and flatly refused the notion that anyone other than Klopp is the man to produce a timely turnaround.

Dortmund chiefs should be admired for their loyalty and may yet be rewarded, but the margin for error is getting smaller. This weekend sees Dortmund travel to Frieburg, a side just two points and four places above them in a congested bottom half of the table.

Defeat in that match would cut Klopp's side adrift, which means its arguably his most important game of his coaching career to date.

Alarm bells are now ringing at the club ever neutral across the continent has grown attached to, which unfortunately means that unless things change and quick Klopp's legacy and ability to make that much rumoured jump to the Premier League may lie in tatters.

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Topics:
Football
Borussia Dortmund
Bundesliga

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