Chelsea: Would Jurgen Klopp Solve the Blues' Problems?
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There have been bigger dramas at Chelsea during the club's 108-year history, but it doesn't disguise the fact Thursday's 1-0 defeat to Steaua Bucharest in the Europa League has amplified their current problems to a whole new level.
With interim manager Rafael Benitez set to depart Stamford Bridge in the summer, that day cannot come soon enough for many Blues fans. The cries from the terraces are for Jose Mourinho to return and save them from this pit of despair they find themselves in, but of all the men linked with the manager's job, Jurgen Klopp is one whose credentials have slipped under the radar somewhat.
The 45-year-old German is the man Borussia Dortmund have largely to thank for the club emerging as a European force once more. The Bundesliga crown may be seemingly destined for Bayern Munich this term, but he has overseen their rise to lift back-to-back league titles in 2011 and 2012, while also reaching this year's Champions League quarterfinal.
Struggling to a 13th-place finish just three points above the relegation zone in 2008, many Dortmund fans would never have dreamed the appointment of the relatively inexperienced coach that summer would lead to the success it has.
He won the German Cup in his first season—defeating Bayern in the final no less—while finishing a respectable sixth in the league. He followed that up with a fifth-place finish the season before shocking German football by claiming the title in 2011.
It was an impressive feat, but what is most rousing about Dortmund's rise under Klopp is they have done it largely on a small budget in comparison to most clubs.
With an emphasis on youth, he has nurtured the talents of academy graduates Mario Gotze, Nuri Sahin and Marcel Schmelzer, bringing players through the system and blending them with talents from elsewhere.
Of the managers linked with the Chelsea job, who would you like to see at the club next season?
Mats Hummels had already been drafted in on loan from Bayern prior to Klopp's arrival, but recognising his talents, he soon made his signing permanent for a cut-price €4 million. The centre-back has since won international honours with Germany and is now valued well in excess of his initial transfer fee.
But the story doesn't end with Hummels. The possible jewel in the crown, Robert Lewandowski, signed for a reported €4.5 million from Lech Poznan in 2010.
The Polish striker has more than played his role in the club winning major honors, and like Hummels—if any number of newspapers or websites are to be believed—is being pursued by giants of the game from across the continent.
What all this represents is Klopp's ability to not only highlight talent, but his nous as a coach to make them better players and create a team capable of achieving greatness. And as we have seen this term, Dortmund are in the process of realising that very nobility right now.
With Financial Fair Play rules beginning to grip European football, the need for a coach such as Klopp is beginning to be realised. There will be a shift back to academies, with club's looking to promote from within and marquee signings such as the £50 million Chelsea paid Liverpool for Fernando Torres in January 2010 will not so much become a thing of the past, but will certainly be less frequent.
It's a fact that clubs such as the Blues—who have created their empires on major transfer fees and inflated wage bills—need to understand and consider sooner, rather than later.
Much like when Klopp took charge of Dortmund five years ago, Chelsea find themselves in a similar position to the reigning Bundesliga champions. Relegation is far from a threat, but the club has endured a difficult season and needs to act if they are to prevent the slump continuing.
There are certainly parallels there, but where Dortmund reacted by appointing Klopp, will Chelsea?
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