Julian Nagelsmann turns 30 this week
1899 Hoffenheim manager, Julian Nagelsmann will celebrate his 30th birthday this week. Fröliches Geburtstag and all that, eh.
Remember when you were a kid and people asked you “how old are you?” And you wanted to sound grown up so you said, “I’m eight and three quarters.” Or even, “I’m almost nine.” Remember that?
In terms of world football coaches, Julian Nagelsmann is that young. In fact he is probably the only member of that tiny fraternity who might be young enough to be able to get away with saying things like that.
On that basis, next May, Nagelsmann will be over 30 and three quarters. Almost 31 in fact. The question is where will he be celebrating that milestone? Will he be at home on the Neckar river? Or will he be in Munich? And more to the point, is there any chance at all that he will be partying in Kiev on that night?
Champions past and future
It is important to note that Nagelsmann’s club is fairly young too. Hoffenheim is one of those “new” German clubs that traditionalists find so alarming. The club itself, regardless of the name as it is presently constituted, is really only just ten years old.
Nagelsmann took over as manager in February of 2016 and was immediate successful. In the last part of that season he guided the club away from the rocky shores of relegation and into it’s ninth consecutive season in the first division of Bundesliga. He was just 28-and-a-half when he started.
That ninth season was this past one. Under his leadership, the team continued in an upward trajectory, and he finds himself now set to manage Hoffenheim in next year’s UEFA Champions League as well. If his success continues he might find himself walking the touch-lines in Kiev as his team gets to the final.
But which will be “his team”?
Blood in the water
While success in Bundesliga always attracts attention, sometimes it is of the wrong kind. Winning is like bleeding into shark-infested waters. The blood is red and often so are the sharks in Germany’s top flight.
Thus the reds of Bayern Munich have already snapped up Sebastian Rudy. Rudy was the defensive linchpin of Nagelsmann’s system at Hoffenheim. The club completed the transfer of Rudy—one of the many currently rumored “new Philipp Lahms”—to Bayern this summer after coming to terms in March.
In fact both Rudy and Niklas Süle both went to Bayern at the end of June. Thus far transfers in for Nagelsmann’s current team do not include many standouts. (The loan-in of Bayern’s Serge Gnabry this past week notwithstanding.)
But perhaps Nagelsmann is not worried because he senses the sharks may circle back. And this time they might be coming for him.
Bound for Bayern?
Nagelsmann’s name has indeed been circulated as a possible replacement for FCB should they find they no longer require Carlo Ancelotti’s services in the near future. Ancelotti, remember, won the league last time. But the Bayern faithful are not likely to be satisfied by such trifles much longer. And their club has certainly not been shy about giving them reason to hope for more. Bayern have been busy bolstering their glamorous lineup with many of the rising stars in German football.
That’s not without cause of course. Their side has seen high-profile retirements this past season. And they will likely see more of those in the near future. Yet fans will no doubt expect them to continue to win titles regardless. And not just the league title, but beyond.
Doubles and trebles are very much an expectation for big clubs in this day and age. Putting a quality team on the pitch for two or three competitions per week requires a lot of players. Traditionalist thinking is stuck in a by-gone era when one club played one match per week in pursuit of one cup. That is no longer enough for coaches like Ancelotti, Zidane, Mourinho, or Guardiola. Or anyone else who pretends to their status.
Not even a young man who’s just turned 30…well, really he’s almost 30.