The glory days of the 1970s are a distant memory for only the longest-serving fans of Borussia Mönchengladbach. But an exciting new era is quickly evolving under manager Marco Rose that could shake-up the Bundesliga.
The side from the North Rhine-Westphalia state returned to action on Saturday with the journey to Eintracht Frankfurt. And, the sterile nature of the post-lockdown occasion suited their clinical start to the match as striker Alassane Pléa opened the scoring within 35 seconds.
The lead was doubled after just seven minutes as Marcus Thuram made light work of the Frankfurt resistance, and Ramy Bensebaini scored the third goal from the penalty spot. André Silva was later credited with a consolation goal for the home side as Gladbach took the game 3-1 on the night Bundesliga returned.
While the scoreline was fairly convincing, the performance was better. And it was only a magnificent block from Martin Hinteregger on the line that prevented Jonas Hofmann from increasing the lead late in the match. This was a well-planned and calculated display from a side maintaining an unlikely title challenge.
Although Rose spent the majority of his playing career as a defender at Mainz 05, the beauty of his Borussia Mönchengladbach side is in their expansive, attacking approach. Bensebaini has the tendency to push high and wide on the left offering a key outlet and a source of service for the French pairing of Pléa and Thuram upfront.
Leading the ambitions of Red Bull Salzburg brought Rose to managerial prominence. His achievements with the Austrian outfit both domestically and in Europe ensured he would be talked about as one of the up and coming young coaches in the game. The move to the Bundesliga became increasingly inevitable during the summer of 2019.
Now 43, Rose is already delivering at Borussia-Park in his first season at the Bundesliga club. And while the enforced interruption to the current campaign has threatened to disrupt the form of those challenging at the top of the table, his side made a clear statement on Saturday that they remain focused on the task in hand.
Rose played under Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp at Mainz 05, and the influence is clear. The attacking traits that have taken Borussia Mönchengladbach to the third position in the Bundesliga have been more than evident in Liverpool's recent success. Also, there remains a close bond between the two figures that ensures the comparisons will continue.
Attracting the services of Rose was a major coup for Borussia Mönchengladbach, and their vision of what the young coach could bring to the Bundesliga has been rewarded. Challenging Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund for the Bundesliga crown is no easy feat, but this is an unusual season, and this is a campaign where anything can happen.
Rose blooming in the Bundesliga
The final Bundesliga positions will be decided by the manner in which teams adapt to these strange times. It was clear across the games played at the weekend that some players have found it easier to adapt than others. Nevertheless, playing in the sterile atmospheres of empty stadiums will test the psychological nerve of even the most experienced players.
Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund currently sit above Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga table, and playing out the remainder of the season in empty stadiums will have an influence on the final standings. This is a unique test for each and every player and manager, but the performance of his side on Saturday suggests that Rose has found the right mental formula for his players.
While the Bundesliga title may remain out of reach this season, there is no doubt that Rose and his side have gained plenty of interest. His services will likely be in demand regardless of the eventual outcome of the campaign. A UEFA Champions League place already seems assured for Borussia Mönchengladbach, and the potential of what Rose and this side could achieve is exciting.
Borussia Mönchengladbach will appreciate their title challenge remaining in the shadow of the big two. And more the attention and pressure that is placed on their rivals, the more it will benefit them. The football world is currently fixed on the Bundesliga, and Rose's stock will reach an all-time high if his side can continue to produce in the final weeks of the season.
It is only natural that young managers earn the unnecessary and unappreciated labels of being the next Jürgen Klopp or the next José Mourinho as they make their mark at the highest level. But Rose appears clear in his own vision over how his side should perform. The biggest challenge for Borussia Mönchengladbach now will be to keep him.