FourFourTwo’s 50 Best Football Managers in the World 2017: No.17, Julian Nagelsmann
Julian Nagelsmann's rise has been simply astounding. Hoffenheim, under their manager who turned 30 on July 23, have developed from underachieving bottom-dwellers into one of the elite teams of German football in a span of 20 months.
For long-term success, you have to have an idea of how to handle people, how to get them working together
When Nagelsmann took over as head coach in October 2015, Hoffenheim were in 17th place. At the end of the 2016/17 season, the Sinsheim side had finished fourth in a highly competitive Bundesliga, having gone undefeated in 17 straight home games.
Despite his extremely young age and being the poster child of a new-age generation of scientifically astute German Konzepttrainer, Nagelsmann can still be called an old-school type of coach. He knows that there is a lot more to coaching than the X’s and O’s on the tactical drawing board.
"If you want short-term success, technical knowledge is fine,” he has said. “But for long-term success, you have to have an idea of how to handle people, how to get them working together, how to handle players’ private issues – to clear their minds, to be empathetic is very important."
Nagelsmann’s most famous quote thus far, that "30% of coaching is tactics, 70% social competence", reveals a lot about his focus on the man-management aspects of his job, but also conceals the fact that he's a very talented tactician.
He has maximised the talents of his underrated young group of players. Hoffenheim mostly play a 5-3-2 formation, with an emphasis on vertical movement in attack and a high-octane pressing style when not in possession of the ball. Strikers Andrej Kramaric and Sandro Wagner, and playmakers Nadiem Amiri and Kerem Demirbay, have enjoyed the best seasons of their careers this year.
They seem to be the first of many players who will thrive under Nagelsmann’s guidance. So now what?
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- FourFourTwo's 50 Best Football Managers in the World 2016