After a year and a half of searching, RB Leipzig has found a new sports director: Max Eberl will start in Saxony on December 15th. At ex-club Borussia Mönchengladbach, the 48-year-old leaves many unanswered questions, since the first rumors of a change came up eight months ago.
In less than a year, Max Eberl has gone from being the celebrated father of success to persona non grata at Borussia Mönchengladbach. This is not only due to his move to competitor RB Leipzig, who is hated by fans of traditional clubs. This is also due to the side effects of his departure, which brings with it a multitude of inconsistencies even for professional football standards. The chronology of a month-long hiccup with Max Eberl, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff in the leading roles.
December 20, 2020:
Two weeks after the completely surprising entry into the round of 16 of the Champions League, Borussia Mönchengladbach is giving its fans an early Christmas present. The "foals" announce that sports director Max Eberl and financial director Stephan Schippers have extended their employment contracts until 2026. Eberl, who had been repeatedly linked to his youth club Bayern Munich in previous years, has made a long-term commitment to Borussia. The fans are delighted, after all, the father of the Gladbach high-altitude flight of the past ten years remains on board.
Max Eberl takes a break in the Swiss Alps. He had had the "sabbatical" promised by the club as part of his contract extension. A month without football, that's the plan. Because of the supposed "bathtub affair" surrounding Breel Embolo, Eberl ended the break prematurely and returned to Borussia Park after two weeks and three days to get some rest in the club.
Gladbach slides into the crisis. First there was an embarrassing derby defeat against 1. FC Köln, then a week later coach Marco Rose announced what had been in the air for weeks: his move to Borussia Dortmund. The mood in and around the club is suddenly in the basement. After Rose's change announcement, Mönchengladbach's Borussia lost four league games in a row and was eliminated in the quarter-finals of the cup against Dortmund of all places. The hoped-for holiday in the Champions League round of 16 against Manchester City will turn into two dismal games in Budapest, where the pairing will be moved due to strict corona restrictions in Germany.
At the end of March, Gladbach beat Schalke 3-0 after seven defeats in a row in all competitions. This saves Marco Rose from an early dismissal, which large parts of the Borussia fan scene are demanding and prompting Eberl to criticize critical fans and the media. "I'm shocked how dull and stupid you can spread comments on social media these days and journalism sells it as the truth. Dumb cheeks spread lies. That's the problem in our society. Anger, hatred and anger arise because of statements that aren't correspond to the truth."
The "dumpy" comment is seen extremely critically among Gladbach fans. Especially since Eberl already had the flaw of not taking the concerns of the fans seriously enough. At the beginning of 2020, he sharply condemned protests by the Ultras against Hoffenheim's patron Dietmar Hopp and received the receipt from the active scene in the form of a banner: "Eberl: Sporty Champions League, fan-political district league!"
Eberl presents the Rose successor in Adi Hütter, whom he lost from Eintracht Frankfurt. In the industry, the change of the reserved Austrian is perceived as a coup. Gladbach transferred 7.5 million euros to Eintracht for Hütter. The second-highest coaching fee in Bundesliga history, only Julian Nagelsmann is more expensive to this day.
In this phase, the second story line begins in the saga about Max Eberl and Leipzig. RB CEO Oliver Mintzlaff has to look for a new sports director because Markus Krösche is leaving Leipzig for Eintracht Frankfurt. The Saxons are pursuing a "clear plan" and already have "someone in their sights," Mintzlaff states and expresses the hope that the post of sports director will be filled by the start of the 2021/22 season.
On the home stretch of the season, Gladbach gambled away their participation in the European Cup. In the end, Borussia ended up in a thankless eighth place, coach Marco Rose moved on to Dortmund. Meanwhile, Borussia Mönchengladbach announces that the Swiss TV presenter Sedrina Schaller will surprisingly become the assistant to team manager Christofer Heimeroth. Outside of Gladbach, the personal details are just a side note, but that will change later.
Gladbach's start to the season under new coach Hütter fails. Borussia have been chasing the targeted places in the European Cup from the start. As it turns out later, Hütter was promised new signings, which Eberl cannot fulfill, however, because there is no financial leeway for expensive transfers, mainly due to the lack of player sales. "Unfortunately, what was promised to me in the summer transfer period has not been kept. Nothing has happened at the player level," said Hütter a year later on "Servus TV".
Max Eberl does not want to continue in Gladbach and expresses this wish to the top management. The public gets nothing from the internal Eberl earthquake. "When Max Eberl spoke to us in October last year, we were shocked. We did everything we could to keep him, to turn him around," President Rolf Koenigs will say in January at Eberl's memorable farewell press conference. Adi Hütter will also be informed by his sports director in autumn 2021. "Max Eberl summoned me to his office and told me that. At the time it was an absolute blow to my neck. I have to say that very clearly," said the Austrian immediately after Eberl's departure three months later. "That was a slap in the face," Hütter added to "Sky Sport Austria" in September 2022 and even dated the Eberl info to the end of September 2021.
Eight months after leaving Markus Krösche, Leipzig have finally found a new sporting director, Oliver Mintzlaff announces. According to the CEO, it is a man who is still working for another club. Therefore no name is mentioned. However, Mintzlaff admits that the ominous Mister X was already involved in the search for a new coach. They "exchanged" the successor to the sacked Jesse Marsch, says Mintzlaff.
The new Leipzig coach is Domenico Tedesco, who starts with a 4-1 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach. There was also brief speculation about Tedesco in Gladbach at the beginning of the year after Rose had announced his move.
13 January 2022:
Borussia is in the relegation battle at the beginning of the new year. Even the 2-1 win at Bayern at the start of the second half of the season does not mean a turning point, rather the situation on the Lower Rhine deteriorated in the weeks that followed. At the press conference before the start of the second half of the season, sports director Eberl flirted with investors that Borussia would have to rely on in the future if they wanted to continue to be successful. "It may well be that Europe becomes a utopian goal for us if more and more clubs find ever more creative ways to position themselves financially and we stick to our path."
18 January 2022:
The next strange Eberl appearance follows two weeks later. At the PK before the cup round of 16 in Hanover, Gladbach's sports director is unusually taciturn, answers questions rudely and addresses coach Adi Hütter twice as "Dieter". Two days later, Borussia is knocked out of the cup by the second division side. Without Max Eberl, who is absent due to illness. As it turns out later, the press conference before the cup game in Hanover is Eberl's last "normal" PK in the service of Gladbach.
28 January 2022:
Max Eberl tearfully announces what he had already pushed for in October: the end of his career as sports director at Borussia Mönchengladbach. "I'm tired. I don't have the strength to do this job anymore. Football is my life, football is my joy. Many things around it are no longer my joy and not my fun."
The native of Munich supposedly takes the wind out of the sails of the rumor mill. "If anyone thinks I'm doing this because I want to change clubs, please forget that quickly. I just want out, I just don't want anything to do with this football right now. I just want to see the world."
Even then there were rumors in Gladbach and Leipzig that Eberl was thinking about moving to RB. ntv also reported about it. Whether Eberl resigned at the time in order to negotiate with the "Brause-Klub" a short time later cannot be proven. RB CEO Mintzlaff announced in September on “Bild live” that Leipzig had initially received a rejection from Eberl shortly after the farewell PK.
It is clear that Borussia's officials observed Eberl's hasty and surprising end with suspicion and therefore did not grant his request for early termination of the contract. Above all, Gladbach's President Rolf Königs is heavily criticized in the media for his appearance at the PK. At the time, the 81-year-old was perceived as heartless and without empathy. Eberl's farewell was "respected but not accepted". A statement that, in retrospect, allows deep insights.
March 5, 2022:
Leipzig's CEO Mintzlaff announces that a new sports director will open at RB in the summer. A year later than originally planned. Again no name is mentioned. "I can't say at this point whether we'll announce it in March," said the brief statement from the RB man.
13. May 2022:
Max Eberl reports from his time off. He has written an open letter that he has published through the Mönchengladbach fan project. In it, Eberl addressed a few words to the fans of Borussia Mönchengladbach. His withdrawal was "not an ad hoc decision". He had "internally communicated the radical decision" to want to leave Gladbach for a long time.
30. June 2022:
Oliver Mintzlaff announces the next turnaround in the search for a sports director in Leipzig via RB's own channels. "I know I said we were going to introduce a new sporting director in July. However, things took a different turn in the short term: in the weeks following the cup final, we lost the candidate we agreed on for a variety of reasons One reason for this was that, surprisingly, another door opened for us at the same time, which means an extremely big opportunity for us. Unfortunately, however, we will not be able to present this sports director in July, but for understandable reasons only after the end the current transfer period."
Mintzlaff does not say who the "extremely big opportunity" for Leipzig is. To this day it is also completely unclear with whom RB has allegedly agreed since December 2021, who should be included in the coaching decision for Tedesco and who wants to have canceled again six months later. Mintzlaff is rambling: "We always had and still have a plan. That's why all the words I've chosen so far in connection with this person will be put into practice, so nobody has to worry."
Mintzlaff has now confirmed that Eberl was back in the Saxons' sights after winning the cup at the latest. After the cancellation at the beginning of the year, he "didn't let go of Eberl, knowing full well that the door wasn't even open a crack."
July 30, 2022:
"Sky" reports that Eberl is negotiating with Leipzig and is to become the new sport manager there. Mintzlaff cannot leave the personnel unconfirmed for long. It quickly becomes clear: Eberl is the designated new strong man among the financially strong "lawn ball athletes". A supposed "transfer hammer", which does not hit Mönchengladbach unprepared. Rumors of contact between Eberl and RB Leipzig persisted for weeks.
13. September 2022:
The Mönchengladbach fan project (FPMG) publishes an open letter on its website. In it, Max Eberl is sharply attacked and accused of a "drama". "Providing to the public this image of your professional football fatigue while you're haggling your exit to Red Bull is - we can't put it any other way - downright shoddy and a slap in the face to anyone who actually suffers from burnout. "
17. September 2022:
Borussia Mönchengladbach defeated RB Leipzig with their new coach Marco Rose 3-0. Banners from the Gladbach Ultras, which "can 100 percent sign" the open letter of the fan project, caused indignation. The insult "A sons of bitches' association only hires sons of bitches" even caused referee Patrick Itrrich to make a loudspeaker announcement and demand that the banner be removed.
19. September 2022:
After weeks of transfer hiccups between Leipzig and Borussia, which Eberl's contract only let rest after his departure, the 17-month search for a new RB sports director is over. According to ntv information, RB Leipzig will pay a fee of at least five million euros, which can increase depending on the success.