Borussia Mönchengladbach / Netherlands – 2030/31 Season Review
Pandemonium ensues at the final whistle.
The Gladbach supporters storm the pitch, delirious with joy, lifting Jonsson onto their shoulders and parading him about the stadium. Somewhere in the scrum, a pants-less Gary Neville roars his defiance.
Mourinho saunters toward the tunnel, the very picture of obstinate defiance. Shouting abuse at the crowd, in response to chants of “you’re getting sacked in the morning” from both sets of supporters. He is so focused on the crowd that he does not notice Jünter slowly, silently stalking him across the pitch. Down the tunnel. To meet his destiny.
After all, this is a man who – having suffered the humiliation of a World Cup quarterfinal exit with the German national team, took over Champions League-winning PSG – only to suffer the ignominy of beating beaten at his own game by Gladbach, just days after having meekly surrendered the Ligue 1 title to Lyon. A league that Mourinho once mocked, PSG’s streak of dominance broken.
13 straight titles. The pundits question whether this is a mere coincidence, or something more ominous. Only time will tell.
One man stands above it all. Not literally. He watches silently from the Gladbach technical area. Proud. Triumphant. This moment vindicates everything that has defined his managerial career.
For now, no one can claim that the dominance of his Panathinaikos side was a fluke. Or that the Bundesliga title last year was merely luck.
This Gladbach side was being groomed for greatness, no question. But not this year. Everyone agreed that they needed time to age like a fine wine. Time to mature.
It turns out that everyone was wrong. They were ready. Here. And now.
The question now becomes, what next? For this man. For the young Gladbach side that stands atop the European footballing world?
Surely nothing can stop Gladbach now, the supporters tell themselves as they stream out of the Stade de France to continue their celebrations long into the night.
Disbelief greets them with their morning coffee, as the news spreads.
The unimaginable has happened.
Bur has resigned.
The pundits initially speculate about a rift between the club and young manager. But that is absurd, as is promptly demonstrated by the club-organized celebrations which feature Bur and his champions, even as Bur seeks to place the spotlight on his young stallions.
And soon it becomes clear. There was no drama. No hard-feelings. No break between club, players and manager.
The time had simply come to move on.
This improbably-young Gladbach side are Champions of Europe. A fixture on the map. No one can ever take that away from them.
And the future is bright.
Let’s back up a step.
I wasn’t ready for this.
I figured we had another 2 years of development until Gladbach were legitimately challenging for the Champions League title, a time during which we would evolve into a fearsome force.
But here we are. I have to resign. Those are the rules. No exceptions.
Leaving this quickly almost always hurts, though, because I love nothing more than creating something that will last beyond my immediate tenure at a club. Sure, there are some exceptions to this general feeling, where I would prefer a quick one-and-done season.
I was hoping that this Gladbach side would become a dominant force in Germany, supplanting Bayern thanks to the Bavarians going on a bit of a wobble these past few years.
The next manager will make all the difference in terms of whether Die Fohlen regress into mediocrity or carry on.
Of course, there is something incredibly delicious about FM’ing Jose Mourinho’s PSG in a Champions League final. It’s poetic on so many levels. If I have to leave Gladbach “early,” this was the way to do it.
It’s not you, Gladbach. It’s me. And we’ll always have that night in Paris.
Goals for 2031/32: Looking forward, this is a bit of a muddle. There are no eligible clubs in need of a manager. I am also determined to wait for the “right” club job, to support the Netherlands. In terms of the Dutch, we’re co-hosting Euro 2032. All we have to “look forward to” is a series of friendlies. All told, it could be a very quiet year if a club position doesn’t open up quickly.
In short, Gladbach are “Nearly Men” no more:
In the Europa League, Massimiliano Allegri’s Atlético FM’d Rui Faria’s Roma, 2-nil:
In the Europa Conference League, Jacky Mathijssen’s Anderlecht beat Phillip Cocu’s Sevilla on penalties:
And in the active leagues, Paulo Fonseca’s Liverpool won their 4th straight Premier League title, while (Arsenal Legend) Unai Emery led Barcelona to their 8th straight La Liga title. Raul Valbuena’s Juventus won their 10th straight Serie A title (their 19th title in 20 years)…someone really needs to knock them down a peg or two. Speaking of which, as noted above, Cristian Zapata’s Lyon claimed the Ligue 1 title, knocking PSG off of their perch (we’ll see if that lasts…). Murat Yakin’s Club Brugge won their 3rd title in 5 years. Antonio Conte’s Panathinaikos were rampant, undefeated in the SuperLeague. Nenad Brnovic’s Čukarički successfully defended their Serbian title…is the balance of power shifting in Belgrade? (Could Arturo Vidal’s Kolubara continue their rapid ascent and claim a title?!) David Nielsen led Hammarby to the 2030 Allsvenskan title, their 3rd in 11 years (and 4th overall).
If you’ve stumbled upon this post and are finding yourself a bit confused… Don’t worry. The basic concept behind the Nearly Men save is explained here. Just need to catch up? Each installment in Nicolaj Bur’s story can be accessed through the Nearly Men Archive.
And if you just can’t get enough…join us for The Ballad of Toothless Bob, a series conceived and co-authored by Seattle Red and Oriole that explores the world of Nicolaj Bur, away from the pitch. What is Project Arcturus? What lies beyond the twisted redstone door, deep in the bowels of the Santiago Bernabéu?