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The making of Julian Nagelsman

Julian Nagelsman had a bright professional football player ahead of him after starting his career in the youth setups of both Augsburg and 1860 Munich, where he featured as a center-back. However, due to serious knee injuries, he had to end his dream of becoming a footballer. He later decided to go into coaching because of the love he had for the game. In 2007-2008 season he was appointed as the reserve team coach at Augsburg. At Augsburg, he worked very closely under first-team boss Thomas Tuchel, now the head coach of Paris Saint Germain. Nagelsman was tasked with the job of scouting opponents, and that was how his breakthrough in coaching began. In 2012-13 season, he became the assistant coach for the Hoffenheim under-19 side up until 2016. Fast forward February 2016, he was appointed as the head coach of Hoffenheim senior side after veteran coach Huub Stevens stepped down from his managerial role at the club. Julian Nagelsman became the youngest ever permanent manager in the history of the Bundesliga at the age of just 28 years. He improved the Hoffenheim team during his tenure, finishing 3rd in the 2017-18 season, thus securing a champions league football for the club. After transforming the fortunes of Hoffenheim, RB Leipzig came calling after last season.


Julian Nagelsman’s tactical philosophy

Nagelsman is a promising charismatic young coach in the world currently, and he has adopted three different playing styles since taking charge of Hoffenheim, the defensive style, the free-flowing, and the counter-pressing. Nagelsman’s preferred formation is the 5-3-2 when defending and the quick switch to 3-3-4 when attacking. Nagelsman employs a zonal style of defending, demanding aggression in defense and a fast push up front as soon as the ball is played backward by the opposition. His team starts pressing with the strikers who work together in forcing the opponent wide to a side to initiate a quick shift over and press. The press begins with the first striker while the second striker adopts a covering position in a diagonal line from the first striker to steer the next pass into a wide area. Nagelsman’s team possession structure is the 3-3-4 as his team has an almost optimal spacing of their players in attack to be able to counter press upon losing the ball quickly. There are several occasions his team has done this very well.


Has Nagelsman sealed his status as the special one?

At 32, Nagelsman is the youngest manager to win a champions league knockout match and recently established a significant reputation as boss of RB Leipzig by eliminating one of the greatest tacticians of all time, Jose Mourinho and his Tottenham side in the round of 16 of the Champions League earlier this week. The win over Mourinho represents an excellent achievement for his young managerial career. Nagelsman is one of the most intriguing stories in Europe, with elite clubs monitoring his progress after achieving such a great feat. Nagelsman and Mourinho have similarities in their careers. In Germany, he is known as “baby Mourinho.” Nagelsman is very intelligent in how he sets his teams up to play football as well. He went from deploying a very structured defensive formation when he first arrived in Hoffenheim to playing a high intensity and high tempo counter-pressing system. He has also converted RB Leipzig into a ruthless team with a lot of pace and energy on the break. He is also known to use a variety of formations depending upon the opposition. Looking at the excellent work he did at Hoffenheim, and what he is currently doing at RB Leipzig at his age, he deserves all the plaudits from football pundits. He is now arguably the poster boy in the German Bundesliga, and his excellent man-management skills, along with his super systematic approach has made him one of the best managers in the world currently.


What next for Nagelsman?

RB Leipzig is now third on the league log with 50 points, 5 points behind league leaders Bayern Munich. There is still a lot of matches to play. Nagelsman has made Leipzig the best outfit in the German top flight this season. Before moving to Leipzig, his performances at Hoffenheim had caught the eyes of many top European clubs. From the way he is progressing in his coaching career, he could end up coaching one of the big clubs in either the Premier League or La Liga.


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