Borussia Dortmund boss Peter Stoger: 'Futile' to discuss future before season ends
DORTMUND, Germany -- Borussia Dortmund coach Peter Stoger said that it was futile to discuss his future before the end of the season.
Stoger, whose contract expires at the end of June, appeared to signal that he was not interested in renewing his deal after Sunday's 2-0 defeat in the Revierderby to Schalke.
The Austrian, who has reportedly received €3 million for his six months at the club, told WDR Radio after the game: "My contract runs through to June 30, and that's good as it is."
On Tuesday, however, Stoger tried to clarify Sunday's statement, telling reporters after a public training session: "Just because I said that it's a good thing that my contract expires on July 30 doesn't mean that it cannot continue afterwards. But at this time, it is futile to discuss that topic because we all need to focus on the remaining four games together with the clear aim to finish [in the top four]. Right now, it's not about individuals."
Dortmund have yet to announce their coach for next season but are reportedly still interested in Nice boss Lucien Favre. On Monday, Austrian outlet Salzburger Nachrichten said BVB were also interested in RB Salzburg coach Marco Rose, who has guided his team to the Europa League semifinals.
Speaking ahead of the Schalke game, Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said the club were "extremely grateful" for Stoger's services since December and added: "We have always said that a longer cooperation with Peter is possible."
In the meantime, Dortmund will have to see out their season without their first-choice centre-forward Michy Batshuayi. The Belgium international, who joined the Ruhr side in the winter on loan from Chelsea, picked up an ankle injury on Sunday, ruling him out for BVB's final four games and potentially the World Cup in Russia.
Stoger, however, said that the blow is softened by a multitude of options to replace the 24-year-old striker.
"Alexander Isak is an option. Otherwise, we could put one of our fast wingers [Maximilian Philipp and Christian Pulisic] upfront in combination with Marco Reus," he said. "Andre Schurrle also would have been an option but he may not be fit for the weekend. His foot suffered a knock during the game against Schalke. Though, we certainly have enough options to make do for [Batshuayi]."
The Austrian coach said that losing the derby felt very uncomfortable but did not agree that a lack of mentality was the issue.
"We had a big opportunity to leapfrog Schalke and to take a big step towards Champions League qualification. We failed to do that, which was disappointing," he said. "Thus, it wasn't so easy to find sleep. Now we have to lick our wounds and prepare for the Leverkusen match. We often managed to show a positive response to bad results and this will also be necessary this time.
"It may sound odd -- especially because I had criticised the team's attitude in the past -- but I don't think we lacked aggression in the derby. Schalke may have used some challenges to create their goals and may have been more resolute in their defence but I don't think we slacked. Obviously, Schalke are a team that embodies different virtues so [their physicality] was no surprise. Things weren't going our way in many areas of the game but I don't think that our lads were lacking in mentality."
The Black and Yellows conceded third place to in-form Bayer Leverkusen on the weekend due to inferior goal difference and hold a four-point lead over fifth-placed RB Leipzig. BVB host Leverkusen on Saturday at the Westfalenstadion, while Leipzig host sixth-placed Hoffenheim.
Stefan Buczko covers Borussia Dortmund for ESPN FC. Twitter: @StefanBuczko.