Pitchside Europe

In-form Moenchengladbach are far from a joke

The 1990s British comedy series The Fast Show had a mock news show, Channel 9, in which 'Borussia Munchen Munchen Munchen Munchen Glad-to-be-back' featured hilariously.

They - like all the fake teams in the league - failed to score, but very few are laughing at the real-life, real name version this season.

Firstly, I must declare an interest: not only do I have long-standing and dear friends living in the city, but my dad received first-class VIP treatment - while his son received the bog-standard press fare, I hasten to add - at Borussia Park last season. So, I have always had a soft spot for 'Gladbach.

But right now, there is little not to like about them anyway.

Five wins in a row has taken them into the top four with their 100% home record - embellished to seven-out-of-seven with last weekend's defeat of Freiburg - a major factor in the Foals returning to thoroughbred status.

They are also playing some of the best football in the Bundesliga, as they have done throughout the reign of Lucien Favre.

"The statistics don't interest me," said the 'Gladbach coach when asked about his magnificent seventh successive home victory, a statement which is somewhat surprising for a man who oozes the calm of an accountant.

And yet the mild-mannered Swiss has made things add up at Borussia Park since stepping in for Michael Frontzeck in February 2011 with the club seemingly doomed, destined for another spell in the doldrums in which they have spent much of the time since their heyday of the 1970s.

Though the play-off win over Bochum that season was somewhat streaky to preserve their top-flight status, Favre has since shown a canny knack of building a successful side that is great to watch to boot.

A good dollop of credit must go to sporting director Max Eberl, who has ensured the potentially damaging departures of Roman Neustädter, Dante and Marco Reus have - eventually - been compensated for.

Favre has managed to bring better form out of Raffael than the Brazilian ever showed at Hertha Berlin while Oscar Wendt has finally proven himself an astute signing, giving Favre's side the sort of attacking impetus from full-back that Filip Daems used to but can no longer provide, and the same can be said of Granit Xhaka.

Max Kruse has flourished into a player with sufficient potential to feature for Germany at next summer's World Cup, and offers Favre the sort of quality up front Mike Hanke gave him before the pair fell out while Christoph Kramer has been a real find after being signed from Bochum this summer.

Add the virtually-homegrown Patrick Herrmann, the ersatz Reus, and there is serious but unheralded quality in Favre's squad.

There is also Juan Arango, who at one stage appeared destined not to fit into Favre's plans, but has since shown himself to be as dedicated as he can be brilliant.

Blessed with a tantalisingly talented left foot - a Dosenöffner, a 'tin-opener' as German journalists like to call it - the Venezualan's set-pieces in particular are a menace as Nuremberg found out last month, but his willingness to add to the team's industry is equally creditable.

He sums up what Favre's side are all about - skill and spirit - as well as giving it a sometimes frustratingly inconsistent but occasionally exhilarating stroke of genius.

With Marc-André ter Stegen, Tony Jantschke and Martin Stranzl, who is likely to sign a deserved contract extension, Favre has a sufficiently solid base on which to build.

Whether or not they can step up and get 'Gladbach into the Champions League and then reach the group stage remains to be seen. They missed out last season after being handed a tricky play-off draw against Dynamo Kiev.

Should they finish in the top four this season, hopefully the Fates will be a little kinder to them as the club, and Favre in particular, deserve to have their work displayed on the biggest possible stage.

Ian Holyman | Follow on Twitter