Gladbach crisis deepens as sporting director Max Eberl quits

Crisis-hit Borussia Mönchengladbach was left reeling on Friday when sporting director Max Eberl quit the Bundesliga club, ending an association of 23 years.

“There’s a very simple reason why I can’t work anymore,” Eberl said as he held back tears at a hastily called news conference. “Because I’m just exhausted, because I’m tired, because I don’t have the strength anymore to do this job as this job needs, as this club needs it.”

Eberl, a former defender who played 146 games for Gladbach between 1999-2004, took over the club’s youth setup in 2005 before becoming sporting director in 2008. He had been coming under increasing pressure over the last year as the team failed to recover after coach Marco Rose decided to join league rival Borussia Dortmund.

Gladbach slumped and missed out on Champions League qualification last season, and it has been struggling this season under Rose’s replacement Adi Hütter.

Hütter’s team has lost seven of its last in nine games across all competitions. It was knocked out of the German Cup in a poor performance against second-division Hannover this month, and is just three points above the Bundesliga’s relegation zone more than halfway through the season.

To make matters worse, captain Lars Stindl was recently ruled out for some time with a knee injury, and Gladbach has also missed the combative presence of Christoph Kramer in midfield.

Fans have been confounded by a team capable of beating Bayern Munich (twice) and Borussia Dortmund, only to concede 10 goals in back-to-back games against Cologne and Freiburg. Gladbach, which routed Bayern 5-0 in the German Cup, currently has the third worst defensive record in the Bundesliga.

Eberl was credited with leading Gladbach’s revival after it narrowly avoided relegation in 2011, and the team had been challenging for Champions League qualification in recent seasons.

Eberl was a target for Bayern before the Bavarian powerhouse appointed Hasan Salihamidžić as sporting director in 2017. Eberl extended his contract with Gladbach in 2020, when he spoke of winning titles with the club.

“The club really tried everything to convince me (to stay). It opened all the doors for me, gave me every opportunity to gain time, to calm down, to continue,” Eberl said Friday. But I have to draw the line. I have hit the point where I say ‘I have to get out, I have to take care.'”

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Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP