Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - One of the more vexing annual peccadilloes comes at the turn of the year when many inadvertently, yet continually, annotate various documents with the incorrect date.
Rather than marking items with the correct time stamp of "2015," the vast majority becomes stuck in the habit of scribing "2014" following months of reinforcement.
Jurgen Klopp seems as if he is the type to be stuck in that majority.
Through 19 Bundesliga matches, Borussia Dortmund finds itself at the foot of the table with 16 points. The club has just four league wins on the season, including just two in its last 16 outings. And Klopp's men have scored just 18 goals in Bundesliga action, a sum dwarfed by the 80 league goals that they posted last term.
All of this from a team that entered the season as Bundesliga title contenders.
Klopp has had to contend with considerable adversity this season, but the Dortmund boss has had plenty of support to respond to such hardship.
Dortmund lost Robert Lewandowski, its leading scorer from last season, to Bayern Munich on a free transfer, a departure that would cripple any club. But that excuse is void as Dortmund, a club proven adept at unearthing gems in the transfer market, recruited strikers Ciro Immobile and Adrian Ramos to fill the gap while persuading Shinji Kagawa to return to Signal Iduna Park.
Klopp also has been somewhat shortchanged by the lack of availability of some key players over the course of the season. Star defender Mats Hummels missed the start of the season while recovering from both injury and Germany's extended World Cup run while Marco Reus has struggled to hit top form after sustaining a host of untimely ailments, keeping the 25-year-old in and out of the lineup.
But next to Bayern, Dortmund has the deepest roster in the Bundesliga, boasting proven difference makers waiting in the wings who are more than capable of deputizing for Klopp's first-choice players. It is precisely that depth that should prevent Dortmund from jeopardizing its top-flight status, and yet the club toils in the cellar with three months remaining in the season.
Klopp had the entire Bundesliga winter break to devise a plan to right the ship, but Dortmund has returned to action with just a point from two matches and no goals scored.
Following a scoreless draw with Bayer Leverkusen last weekend, Dortmund's stammer was exacerbated by a 1-0 home loss to Augsburg on Wednesday, an abysmal display in all facets of the game.
Dortmund lacked any sort of cohesion in the match, struggling to string together meaningful passes in the final third. Immobile's decision making was particularly poor as the Italian often opted to play the low-percentage "Hollywood" pass instead of the simpler option. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's timing was atrocious, disrupting Dortmund's attack by occupying an offside position on several occasions. There was even an instance of Hummels, a central defender, attempting to take on upwards of three Augsburg defenders around the penalty area before quickly being dispossessed, rather than circulating the ball to one of the team's more gifted technical players.
These issues possibly can be attributed to rust following the winter break, and they can be fixed quite easily on the training ground. But the most alarming problem facing Dortmund in Wednesday's clash was the club's complete lack of urgency, even after Augsburg's Christoph Janker was sent off in the 64th minute.
Dortmund, sitting bottom of the table and trailing at home with an extra man, bizarrely possessed the ball with little in the way of attacking venom. With each passing minute in the match, the difference between a 1-0 loss and a 2-0 loss became less significant, so why Dortmund failed to pump numbers forward in search of a point is quite perplexing.
It does not seem as if Klopp realizes his side's dire position. The lion share of the season is not on the horizon, it is in the rearview. It is no longer November, or even December. And yet, Klopp deploys his team in a manner that suggests there is plenty of time for Dortmund to make up the ground.
Klopp looks as if he is writing "2014" on documents when he needs to have a look at the calendar.