One of the youngest managers in the world, the German tactician has already shown his abilities in Bundesliga.
Despite earning the nickname ‘Baby Mourinho’ early on in his coaching career, new Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann has shown he’s very much his own man after impressing with Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig.
10. Common Goal
Nagelsmann’s success has not gone to his head, however. Quite the opposite in fact. In October 2017 he became the first head coach in world football to sign up to the Common Goal initiative, a project in which footballers pledge at least one per cent of their wages to a collective fund managed by Berlin-based non-governmental organisation streetfootballworld.
9. Too snazzy?
Empty stadiums have allowed football fans an interesting insight into what players and coaches say to each other out on the pitch during matches. Those who have watched Leipzig will no doubt have picked up Nagelsmann’s piercing shrieks from the touchline as he gives out commands to his squad in rather uncompromising fashion.
And it’s also Nagelsmann’s clothing style that’s been described as loud. He has caught the eye particularly in European games with some of his outfits as he’s guided Leipzig to back-to-back knockout stages in the Champions League. You can’t fault his coaching methods, but some may question the fashion.
8. The Nagelsmann table
Such was the fascination with the young, rookie coach in the first year of his tenure that German media began keeping a ‘Nagelsmann table’, highlighting how his record stacked up against those of other clubs. While most outlets have long since given up keeping score, it still makes for impressive reading.
Over the course of 116 games between his debut on Matchday 21 in February 2016 and the conclusion of his time at Hoffenheim at the end of the 2018/19 season, Hoffenheim earned a total of 191 points. To put that into context, only Bayern (279), and Dortmund (228) won more over the same period, with big teams such as Bayer Leverkusen (182), Borussia Mönchengladbach (170) and Schalke (158) some way behind.
7. ‘Du’ or ‘Sie’?
Finding the correct form of address for the word ‘you’ is always a bit of a conundrum in German given the social minefield of choosing between the informal ‘Du’ and the more respectful ‘Sie’. Keen to foster a strong collective and close-knit team spirit – as well as perhaps being aware that he is of the same generation as his players – Nagelsmann instructs his squad to use the former with him. He also encourages his men to take more responsibility, leaving it up to them to choose a club captain and set the club’s objectives.
In a telling sign of his growing standing in the game, former Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes gave Nagelsmann permission to use the ‘Du’ form with him in January 2018 in the wake of Bayern’s 5-2 win over Hoffenheim at the Allianz Arena. Praise indeed from the usually reserved veteran strategist, 43 years his senior.
Unsurprisingly, there are shades of Tuchel, among others, in Nagelsmann’s playing philosophy. “I like to attack the opponents near their own goal because your own path to the goal is not as long if you get the ball higher up,” he said. “I like the way Villarreal play and they have a great way of coaching young players, I also like Barcelona and Arsenal as well as the work of Arsene Wenger.”
Nagelsmann has long been a deep thinker. He started studying a business degree but dropped out before completing his bachelor’s degree in sports and training science instead. As if that were not enough, he was awarded an A grade in is professional coaching license, finishing second in his class behind former Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco.
Furthermore, Nagelsmann’s know-how in the Hoffenheim dugout impressed Germany’s football community to such an extent that he was voted Coach of the Year for 2016. It also contributed to former Leipzig boss Ralf Rangnick recruiting him for Die Roten Bullen in time for the 2019/20 campaign.
5. Tactical versatility
Nagelsmann’s two seasons with Leipzig have proven a nightmare for Bundesliga Fantasy managers. He drills his team to be capable of playing in any number of formations, from back threes or fours, to a target man up front or no centre-forward at all.
It makes his teams incredibly tough to predict for observers and opposition alike. Even when line-ups are released, it’s sometimes not clear exactly what he intends to do with those 11 players. And he’s not afraid to make changes early within games, both tactical and personnel, when he realises the original plan is not working as thought. There are few coaches out there capable of creating such fluid and versatile teams.
4. Famous role models
Although Nagelsmann cites former Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola as a source of inspiration, he acknowledges erstwhile Borussia Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel as having the biggest influence on him. While Augsburg reserve-team coach during the 2007/08 season, Tuchel gave Nagelsmann the task of scouting upcoming opponents. “That was my way into coaching,” Nagelsmann explained. “I learned a lot from him.”
Tuchel was equally complimentary of his young protege. “He’s a very inquisitive and very hardworking young coach,” he said when Nagelsmann got the Hoffenheim job. “He enjoyed exceptional successes in youth football. I’m very happy for him and I believe in him.”
3. Training-ground innovator
Hoffenheim are one of the few clubs in the world to use the ‘Footbonaut‘ to fine-tune their players’ touch and control, but Nagelsmann took the use of technology in training even further. As well as using drones to film his squad’s movement, he had a giant videowall installed on the halfway line of their main training pitch.
The system works with four cameras, two from a tower high above the halfway line and one behind each goal. The feed from each camera can be shown on the screen at any time and the cameras are controlled by the training staff, giving them the opportunity to stop, rewind or fast-forward the footage to show the players particular points of interest. It gave Nagelsmann the chance to explain situations in far more detail with four angles at his disposal.
2. Injury heartache
Born in the Bavarian town of Landsberg am Lech, Nagelsmann played for 1860 Munich’s youth sides. While former team-mates Christian Träsch and Fabian Johnson went on to establish themselves in the Bundesliga, a knee injury sustained shortly after he had joined Augsburg cruelly ended Nagelsmann’s ambitions of joining them, aged just 20.
“At first, I didn’t want anything more to do with football,” Nagelsmann, a defender in his playing days, said. “It was very sad for me that I had to end my career so young.”
1. Record breaker
Nagelsmann was just 28 when he was appointed as head coach of Hoffenheim in February 2016, taking over from veteran tactician Huub Stevens, who resigned due to health reasons. Nagelsmann was already scheduled to take charge later that summer, but brought forward his arrival to fill the void. The club were in 17th place and seemingly set to go down at the time, but he lifted them to safety by the end of the campaign.
Although Nagelsmann is the youngest permanent head coach in Bundesliga history, he is not the youngest ever to oversee a Bundesliga match. On 23 October 1976, Bernd Stöber took charge of Saarbrücken in an interim capacity for their trip to Cologne, aged 24. Die Molschder lost the game 5-1.
He later made European history when he took Leipzig to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals shortly after his 33rd birthday. He’s the youngest coach to reach the final four, surpassing Didier Deschamps’ previous record of 35 years, and did so by knocking out Atletico Madrid and Diego Simeone, who made his senior debut as a player the year Nagelsmann was born. It’s also worth remembering that he’s actually a month younger than Lionel Messi.