Sancho: Cool coach behind Dortmund's dominance
England starlet credits Favre's youth philosophy and believes they can make history
|SCHALKE 04||BORUSSIA DORTMUND|
Nearly 110 years of history has seen Borussia Dortmund both live, and overcome, it all.
Competitive highs and lows go hand-in-hand with financial uncertainty, a threat of extinction and even a bomb attack on the team bus that emerged as an elaborate attempt at sabotage.
But a return to happier times is again on the agenda for Germany's former mining capital.
Dortmund head into tomorrow's Revierderby with Schalke 04 as a club reborn.
Much has changed in the Ruhr valley since April's 2-0 defeat by their local rivals at the Veltins-Arena.
"I think because Dortmund are such a big club, last year was a very bad season for us," Jadon Sancho told The New Paper in an exclusive interview in Dortmund recently.
"We got together in pre-season and some changes were made. I think it's helped us a lot and all the young players coming through like me, (Achraf) Hakimi, are all young and playing our best every game. I think that's helping the team a lot.
"It's something different as well, because the young players have a lot to prove. There's different quality on the pitch.
"There's Marco Reus, for example; a legend here, and you've got me, just new and inexperienced. We've all got different attributes to add to the game."
Under Lucien Favre, Dortmund have capitalised on Bayern Munich's malaise by opening up a seven-point lead in the Bundesliga title race.
They are nine points clear of the reigning champions.
The Swiss coach's meticulous attention to detail, however, is working twofold in harnessing expectations amid the prospect of ending a seven-season wait for domestic success.
"He never really talks about the table or anything like that. He just goes game-by-game and tactics game-by-game. He's really chilled," admitted Sancho.
"He's not really fussed that (Borussia Moenchen)Gladbach are seven points behind us.
"He's just chilled... and I think that's what we need. He gives us great advice."
Favre, 61, became the first coach in Dortmund's history to go unbeaten in his opening 13 Bundesliga matches and has blended a crop of burgeoning talent, like Sancho, with steely additions such as midfielders Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney, who signed in the summer.
Newly-installed captain Reus worked under Favre at Moenchengladbach and hailed him as "probably the best coach I've ever had" - and England international Sancho understands his teammate's admiration for the boss.
"You can tell he believes in young players and I think young players have a lot to prove at such a young age. I think Marco Reus can see that all of us have got different attributes," he said.
"We all bring something different to the game. I think this is key to our success because going for experience all the time is not really good... sometimes you need the young players to be fresh and the opponents don't know what they're going to do.
"I think this is really good and the manager can see this, and knows when to make the right changes.
"You can see Paco (Alcacer) this season, he's got 10 (league) goals (mostly) coming off the bench and I've got a few goals as well off the bench so he's really good when he needs to make a change."
Alcacer's impressive rate of return prompted Dortmund to make his season-long loan from Barcelona a permanent deal last month and tied the striker to Signal Iduna Park until 2023.
Nurturing talent still remains the club's primary objective, with Sancho one of several recent recruits that are currently shining for the Bundesliga giants, alongside Jacob Bruun Larsen, Mahmoud Dahoud and highly rated American youngster Christian Pulisic.
Dortmund's proven track record for developing prodigious youth was enough to convince the 18-year-old, who has recorded five goals and eight assists in all competitions this season, to change his career path, after having risen to prominence in Manchester City's youth set-up.
"I just thought that I was ready to take the next step," he said.
"Dortmund, before I met them, they were just telling me about what they see and I really trusted them because they had a lot of young players playing at the time, like Christian Pulisic.
"I just felt like this club were ready for me and I was happy to move away and just focus more on my football development."
Besides leading the Bundesliga, Dortmund have also sealed a place in the Champions League's Round of 16 with a game to spare.
"There's a lot of things we can achieve with this team," added Sancho.
"I can't really tell the future but if we go game by game, focused and determined to win, we can go far and make history."