Former Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann now has Germany’s top footballing job. The “hot seat”, as experienced by Hansi Flick, Jogi Löw, and the ones before is no easy place to sit. It can get highly comfortable with the huge burden of expectations, the need for some drastic changes, and the high profile of the players involved. For Nagelsmann however, this is nothing new.
If his time at Bayern Munich has taught him anything, it is that a top coaching job is never going to be easy. Heck, it doesn’t matter if you’re on course to win a treble...you can get the boot at any time. Which is what makes it important to maintain good relations with the players. This becomes relatively easy if you have the backing of prominent figures in the squad.
An analysis article by Abendzeitung tries to break this down. Taking a look at the current squad situation, it hypothesizes the formation of a “pro-Nagelsmann” and an “anti-Nagelsmann” faction, with an interesting “neutral” segment in there too. Here are the groups:
- Pro-Nagelsmann: Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Leroy Sané, Ilkay Gündogan.
- Neutral: Thomas Müller, Jamal Musiala, Serge Gnabry.
- Anti-Nagelsmann: Manuel Neuer (and possibly a few other senior players).
Let us break this down and see how things look for the new coach.
We can get the obvious out of the way first. Leroy Sané benefited so much from Nagelsmann’s coaching at Bayern Munich and excelled under his tutelage. Both his attacking and defensive instincts improved under the coach, who should have stuck to using him on the left flank (which should be interesting in the German NT setup). Sané did end up slowing down towards the end of the first season, but there is no doubt that Nagelsmann unlocked a new level of monster in Sané even the player probably thought he never possessed.
This could spell great things for Germany’s attack. And well, the midfield seems to be heavily backing the new coach too! Joshua Kimmich is one of Nagelsmann’s biggest admirers, and he and Leon Goretzka were the players most visibly disturbed by the coach’s sacking at Bayern Munich. Add to this Nagelsmann’s admiration of Gündogan as a player and a leader, and you have Germany’s backbone rooting for the coach.
Joshua Kimmich is going to lead Germany moving forward. He and Goretzka being a pair in Germany’s midfield is something we’ve missed under Hansi Flick, who recently excluded the latter from the team selection, something that might well have cost him his job.
Then, we have the “camp neutral.” As expected, Thomas Müller can be expected to be quite diplomatic, but it is true that Nagelsmann did not make the best use of the player. However, it is possible that Müller’s appreciation for Nagelsmann has increased now that he has been relegated to a bench role under Thomas Tuchel. With Musiala, it certainly seems quite mixed, since the player did excellently initially, but had a slump in his second season under Nagelsmann.
However, the player is undeniably one of the most talented youngsters in the world, and the two might be able to find common ground for the success of the team. Musiala has never been a vocal player, so this might not have as big standing on overall team matters as much as it might on the player’s performance. Either way, this relationship seems more of a grey area than the others.
Serge Gnabry has been coached by Nagelsmann for much longer than the other mentioned players; they have had a long-standing relationship since his Hoffenheim days. However, it is quite possible that the coach’s criticism of the player for his vacation in Paris might have rubbed him the wrong way. However, as Die Mannschaft coach, Nagelsmann has less to worry about, since he has a large pool of players to pick from, and won’t be concerned about player behaviour on a weekly basis.
Besides, Gnabry has always played quite well for the national team, which could work in favor of their relationship.
There’s one player, however, who simply cannot be overlooked: captain (?) Manuel Neuer. And his captaincy is up for question now, since Gündogan might well inherit the captain’s armband soon, as a short-term option, with Kimmich primed to take over as permanent captain. Since the fallout with Neuer’s goalkeeping coach Tapalovic, things have been quite icy between the player and Nagelsmann and might sour further, since the goalkeeper is not fully fit yet, and might get snubbed for other options.
There is no doubt, however, that Nagelsmann would pick Neuer once he’s back and healthy since he still remains the best ball-playing goalkeeper in the world. Neuer’s voice and seniority certainly also hold a lot of sway, but it does feel like Nagelsmann would be a lot more powerful this time, since the DFB is not Bayern Munich, and player opinions matter very little when it comes to the national team. As long as the team performs well, Nagelsmann’s job will be just fine.
Heck, Nagelsmann could even bench Neuer if he’s confident about tactics, something he probably couldn’t ever dream of doing at Bayern. At the end of the day, everything will be about results, and thanks to Löw and Hansi, the bar for success is currently at rock bottom. Anything better than a round of 16 exit in the Euros would be deemed a success. Such is the state of die Mannschaft right now.
Grab some popcorn for the upcoming international breaks, guys. There will be no dearth of drama.